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Penguins' Crosby ticketed for normality at delivery

| Monday, Sept. 9, 2013, 10:37 p.m.
James Knox | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Sandy Darling (right) welcomes Sidney Crosby into his Squirrel Hill home Monday, Sept. 9, 2013, as the Penguins' captain was delivering Darling's season tickets.

Sidney Crosby is not too big for any room — even a basement.

A public figure most of his life, Crosby remains polite, easily amused and humble. He also is still unwilling to acknowledge the obvious.

“I don't think Sid thinks of himself as an idol,” said Jimmy Cohen. “ We all think of him that way.”

Cohen, 56, was one of several members of Sandy Darling's family that greeted Crosby at Darling's Squirrel Hill residence Monday. They had never met before, but Cohen had an accurate read on Crosby.

“To sit here and say I do things without thinking, I'd be lying,” Crosby said. “But I do normal things. I don't think I'm a celebrity. I play hockey.”

Crosby, 26, will open his ninth NHL training camp — seventh as Penguins captain — Wednesday. He and 13 teammates spent Monday afternoon delivering season tickets to fans.

Crosby's genuine eagerness to participate in the annual ticket delivery is part of what makes him a “great ambassador for hockey in our city and region,” Penguins CEO David Morehouse said in August.

From providing families of sick children luxury-suite tickets to Penguins games to equipping local youth players with free hockey gear, Crosby has seemingly used any power that comes with his profile — and fortune — for good.

Jonathan Cohen, 21, concurred. Cohen, Darling's grandson, is one of many younger Penguins fans that make habit of seeking players' autographs after practices.

Crosby recognized Cohen immediately upon stepping through the front door of Darling's home Monday. After a nearly 30-minute visit, while getting into his Range Rover, Crosby jokingly remembered not seeing Cohen “that much lately.”

College has turned Jonathan Cohen into a semi-regular among the crowd awaiting Penguins players outside Consol Energy Center, according to Jimmy Cohen.

Darling, 77, is a regular at Penguins home games. This will mark his 45th season with tickets, and his seats are in close proximity to where Evgeni Malkin's parents sit for home games.

Darling's house is lined with Penguins memorabilia, including a Penguins Room in the basement. Before Crosby's arrival, there was debate among the family about whether the Penguins' brightest star would be keen on venturing down those basement steps.

As Jonathan Cohen noted, celebrities do not make a habit of checking out basements, but “Sid is by far the biggest gentleman of any player I've met.”

Darling's children and grandchildren tried to play cool as Crosby smiled — showing no indications of lingering dental problems stemming from a broken jaw last March — while posing for pictures before the invitation to the basement was extended.

Crosby accepted, and returned upstairs after a visit of several minutes with wide eyes that hinted he was impressed.

Darling, just over a serious illness, was overjoyed, said Erica Cohen, his 28-year-old granddaughter.

“The way he impacts a lot of people — like today with my grandfather — to me, he is a celebrity,” she said of Crosby.

“But he's a celebrity who will actually come into your house.”

Note: The Penguins have invited 54 players to camp. The first practices are slated for Thursday at Consol Energy Center.

Rob Rossi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at rrossi@tribweb.com or via Twitter @RobRossi_Trib.

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