Crosby works overtime for media
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At 9:03 yesterday morning, with the players' parking area at Mellon Arena nearly empty and his teammates possibly still home in bed, Sidney Crosby walked into the West Igloo Lounge and greeted about a dozen people.
He was sized up by two clothes stylists and shown some black duds hung on a rack and placed on tables.
This was no indulgent personal shopping spree for the popular Penguins captain. Crosby arrived for work early to devote more than an hour to ESPN The Magazine, which is doing photo shoots with several top-caliber athletes across the country in advance -- well in advance -- of its 10th anniversary issue in March.
Several times a year, as his schedule allows, Crosby fulfills requests from journalists, the NHL and commercial ventures wanting photos and videos with the league's young superstar. Crosby does it without complaint, but it makes for some days that are out of the ordinary compared with most athletes.
Yesterday, after the morning shoot, he had practice with the team, followed by on- and off-ice filming of his first United States commercial for Gatorade. There is one that has been shown in his native Canada.
Crosby has a reputation for being exceptionally accommodating and tolerant at these types of things, but rarely do most people get to see or hear about them beyond the finished product. That's in great part because Crosby shies away from talking about them, although in response to a question last week he said they can range from 30 minutes to several hours.
"It's just part of it," he said somewhat sheepishly after the morning shoot. "I'm not coming to the rink hoping to have my picture taken."
Crosby is no ham, judging by this photo shoot.
The stylists, Rachel Thomas and Khalilah Williams, showed Crosby two black jackets, one leather.
"I'll wear whatever you want, but I wouldn't usually wear this stuff," said Crosby, who arrived in jeans, a T-shirt, a gray hoodie and a Reebok ballcap.
Crosby headed for the men's room to try on a pair of black slacks, black jeans and a thin black long-sleeved sweater. Neither pair of pants fit, so he went with the sweater and his jeans, which probably will be darkened to black by computer to fit with the magazine's theme.
Crosby was positioned on a stool at the center of a temporary photo studio, complete with white backdrop and panels, lights, strobes and reflective umbrellas, with duffle bags of equipment strewn about. Williams fussed with his sweater, primping and smoothing and pinning it in the back.
Photographer Jim Fiscus shot a test roll, with a couple assistants holding up white reflector boards and making lighting adjustments.
"Look this way," Fiscus directed. "Cross your arms. Chin up a little. That's good."
Crosby quietly complied.
All the while, a film team from ESPN was taping the shoot for a Web segment on the magazine's anniversary issue. NHL Productions was supposed to tape it, too, for a Crosby documentary, but was a no-show.
After the test roll, Crosby was given a hat with an ESPN logo that needed to be part of the shot. He put it on, and Julie Claire, a photo editor overseeing the shoot, gently fixed his hair.
The crew encouraged Crosby to get creative with the hat while they shot.
"Stretch it. Play with it. Stomp on it," Fiscus said.
That seemed a little out of Crosby's realm, so there was some staging with the hat hung on his hockey stick.
There were more shots after Crosby changed into a black T-shirt, then he sat for a brief interview taping to go with the shoot.
David Cummings, senior deputy editor of the magazine, got Crosby to sign a hat that all the issue's featured athletes are signing, to be sold for charity.
Then it was time to go get ready for an 11 a.m. practice -- Crosby was one of the first players on the ice -- and he seemed a little relieved to get out of the publicity glare.
"I just do what they tell me to do," he said. "If there's something I need to do, I'll accept it. Outside of that, I'm not going to break any new ground."
All the players had a longer day than usual with a slightly extended workout and an annual NHL security team meeting that started at 1 p.m.
But as his teammates filtered out of the arena in the early afternoon, Crosby had more to do. The Gatorade shoot was expected to take three to four hours.
First Published November 20, 2007 12:00 am