Penguins fans get an assist from Crosby


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She did not notice as a small group of reporters gathered across the street from her Castle Shannon home yesterday afternoon. Or when the Jaguar sedan pulled up a few minutes later.

Alice Kilgore certainly paid attention when she answered her front door.

"I can't believe this! Sidney Crosby delivering my tickets!" Ms. Kilgore blurted without having to take a second look at the unexpected deliveryman.

Mr. Crosby, the NHL's reigning scoring champion and MVP, had emerged from the driver's seat of the Jaguar, climbed her front steps, opened the storm door and knocked.

"Hello," he said, smiling and handing her a box.

He was one of six Penguins players who hand-delivered season tickets to 24 homes around the Pittsburgh area. The others were forwards Evgeni Malkin, Colby Armstrong and Maxime Talbot, defenseman Ryan Whitney and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.

The Penguins hatched the idea in the wake of an extraordinary offseason for ticket sales following a season in which their young club improved by 47 points over 2005-06 and qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 2001.

The team cut off full- and half-season ticket sales when they reached the equivalent of 13,500 full-season tickets, then cut off sales of their smaller plans. Individual game tickets for the seats that remain for the team's home dates at Mellon Arena go on sale Sept. 15.

The team randomly chose the full- and half-season ticketholders for special delivery. To ensure the fans would be home, they were told a player would deliver the goods -- with their tickets, a highlight video, pocket schedules and other items.

Ms. Kilgore was worried she wouldn't recognize the player.

"Some of the players I don't know without their number," she said. "I recognized him without his number."

Just in case, Mr. Crosby was wearing his Penguins sweater over jeans. It was the black version of the new model the team unveiled Wednesday.

Once Ms. Kilgore got over her shock, she ducked back inside and produced a commemorative puck she received from the Penguins for being a season-ticket holder since 1972 -- 15 years before Mr. Crosby was born.

Mr. Crosby thanked her for her support and, at her request, signed the box. He also obliged her with a hug.

"I think it's a great idea," Mr. Crosby, 20, said of the players delivering tickets. "It's a good opportunity for the guys to say 'thanks' personally. Obviously, we can't get to every house, but I think it's a nice gesture."

He found it interesting that in his first two stops he encountered someone who had season tickets for more than 30 years and someone who was a first-time season-ticket buyer.

Ms. Kilgore has two seats and belongs to the Penguins Booster Club. After watching the club for so long, she told Mr. Crosby, "Next to Mario [Lemieux], you're the best."

She also offered a no-nonsense prediction for 2007-08: "I don't think you'll win the [Stanley] Cup this year. Not yet. Maybe next year."

Mr. Crosby, slightly surprised, said, "Well, we'll try this year."


Shelly Anderson can be reached at shanderson@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1721. First Published September 7, 2007 4:00 AM


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