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Pens CEO: DMV flap paints unfair picture of Crosby

| Monday, Aug. 12, 2013, 9:57 p.m.

The Penguins usually employ at least one player to protect Sidney Crosby on the ice.

Their CEO, David Morehouse, took on that role off the ice Monday.

Morehouse said Crosby, the Penguins captain, has never sought preferential treatment even though no less an authority than NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has identified Crosby as “the face of hockey.”

“Anyone that knows Sid or follows hockey — in Pittsburgh or anywhere — knows that's not the person he is,” Morehouse said.

Morehouse is among many Crosby supporters — from agent Pat Brisson to former Penguins teammate Max Talbot — who denounced criticism Crosby has received in some circles for reportedly being moved to the front of line while renewing his driver's license last week.

Crosby, who turned 26 on Wednesday, said he renewed the license Friday at the Department of Motor Vehicles branch in McCandless. His presence caused a stir among fans, and DMV supervisors followed procedure to let Crosby move quickly through the line because of his celebrity status.

“People of high visibility have been given priority for some time,” said Jan McKnight, the DMV's community relations coordinator. “It just makes sense. (Crosby) did not do anything that we don't already allow.”

Brisson said Crosby “did everything right” and that he had an appointment.

Crosby, who is training in Los Angeles, declined comment. In an email to the Tribune-Review, he said the original report of him seeking preferential treatment was exaggerated but added he saw “no need to make a big deal about it.”

Morehouse called the original report of Crosby receiving preferential treatment from the DMV “a nonnews event.”

“To think he would flaunt his status and cut in line — that's not him, and anybody who has been around him or hockey knows that's not him,” Morehouse said.

“Anybody who has seen Sid in a public place knows his presence causes all kinds of commotion, and that he likes least to cause a big scene.”

Talbot, now with the Philadelphia Flyers, described Crosby as “a pretty good role model.” He cited Crosby's charity work that includes annually providing free equipment to Western Pennsylvania youth hockey players and also reserving a suite at Consol Energy Center for sick children.

Evgeni Malkin, viewed as the other franchise player by Penguins management, has said he marvels at Crosby's handling of celebrity.

“It is not for me,” Malkin said. “Sid is (the) most popular, but he doesn't act like (a) big star to us or the fans.”

Crosby has made a habit of signing autographs after every Penguins practice at Consol Energy Center. During the NHL lockout last fall, he routinely spent time after player organized practices speaking to and posing for pictures with fans.

Crosby said what he liked most about Pittsburgh is that Penguins fans generally respect his privacy.

“I think our fans are really good about that,” Crosby said last November. “Obviously, being recognized comes with being a hockey player, but the fans here have always been really respectful of me.

“And, anyway, I was a young fan once, so I know how much it means to get a picture or an autograph, so I'm happy to do that for our fans, for sure.”

That attitude, Morehouse said, is the reason those close to Crosby were upset by criticism based off the reports of his DMV experience.

“It was just completely 180 degrees from the true Sidney Crosby,” Morehouse said.

Rob Rossi and Josh Yohe are staff writers for Trib Total Media. Reach Rossi at rrossi@tribweb.com or via Twitter @RobRossi_Trib, or Yohe at jyohe@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JoshYohe_Trib.

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