Saturday, June 21, 2008


Uncle Mario, Aunt Nathalie, and I arrived at the arena about an hour before faceoff. I sat in Uncle Mario’s owners box and watched the Penguins and the Ducks do warm ups. I was wearing Sid’s jersey and my eyes kept finding number 87 doing circles on the ice.

“Hi, everyone,” Trina Crosby greeted brightly as she entered the box. Her husband, Troy, and their daughter, Taylor repeated the greeting.

Uncle Mario shook Troy’s hand and hugged Trina. They made small talk about the season and hockey in general before Uncle Mario thought to introduce me. “This is my niece, Karine. She’s staying with us until her apartment is finished.” I stood and shook Troy and Trina’s hands.

“Nice to meet you,” I said with a huge smile.

“Likewise,” Trina replied. I could already tell that Sidney’s mother was the friendlier parent—Troy seemed very nice, but somewhat reserved, like he was unsure of what to think of me.

“What brings you to Pittsburgh?” Troy asked.

“I got a job with PPG. I don’t start until the fifteenth, but I wanted to get to know the city beforehand,” I explained. We chatted some more until the arena went dark and the announcer began to introduce the team. Excitement surged through my body as the guys took to the ice. As Sid met the captain of the Ducks at center ice for the faceoff, I leaned forward slightly, feeling nervous tension build in my body.


The Pens won the game five to four, with Sid getting one assist. Although the Canadiens were still my favorite team, I had never gotten so into one of their games. I had so much excited energy pulsing through me by the final buzzer that I almost felt like I had been on the ice playing as well.

“Let’s go congratulate the guys!” Uncle Mario suggested after most of the 17,000 plus fans had left the arena. I followed Uncle Mario, Aunt Nathalie, and the Crosbys through a labyrinth of hallways, constantly twisting down until we finally arrived at the Penguins’ locker room.

As soon as Sidney saw his family, he jumped up from the bench and hugged them.

“Good game, Sid,” Troy said, patting his son on the back. Sidney beamed proudly. I stood back and allowed him to talk to his family, smiling at how giddy he was. After literally thousands of games, I could still see Sid was still very affected by every win and loss.

“So, what did you think of your first Pens game?” he asked, pulling me into a friendly hug.

I shrugged. “It was alright,” I joked. “I mean, nothing compared to a Canadiens game. You guys don’t even have a French announcer!”

“I’ll see what I can do about that,” Sid replied with a grin. “Hey, we were gonna go to Bugsy’s to celebrate if you’d like to join me,” he said quietly. I noticed he was staring at the Gatorade bottle in his hand and his face was slightly pink, but I couldn’t tell if it was from playing or blushing.

“Sure,” I replied, feeling that stupid grin spread across my face again.

“I have to go talk to the press, but I shouldn’t be too long.”

“Okay. I’ll wait for you here.” He winked at me, sending my stomach into a lurch, and exited the room after giving his family another hug.

The players began to empty out of the locker room and I wandered closer to Sidney’s locker.

“You coming, Karine?” Uncle Mario asked from the doorway.

“No, I’m going to Malone’s with Sid for a while,” I replied. I saw Troy arch his eyebrows and shoot an unreadable look at his wife.

“Okay. We’ll see you later.”

I told everyone goodbye and looked around the empty locker room. I felt bad for whoever had to clean up after the guys—empty water bottles, boxes of pizza, and other trash littered the floor. I turned around to look at Sid’s locker. It was relatively neat, compared to some of the others. Besides his gear, he had a few pairs of mesh shorts and Pens tee shirts folded on a shelf and a picture of him with his family taped on the back wall of the locker. I leaned forward for a better look—it had probably been taken when he was 16. I chuckled quietly when I noticed blonde highlights streaked through his dark hair.

“What’s so funny?” Sid asked from behind me, making me jump.

“Why don’t you have blonde highlights anymore? They looked really good,” I said sarcastically.

Sid groaned and rolled his eyes. “Not my best decision, okay? You ready?”

“Yep.” Sid slung his bag over his shoulder and we walked out of the arena and into the nearly empty parking lot. “You look so much better in black than in red,” Sid said, referring to the fact I was wearing his jersey instead of a red Montreal one.

“That’s a matter of opinion.”


After two hours at Ryan Malone’s, I was feeling an all-too-familiar buzz. I plopped down on the couch and smiled at Sidney, who was staring at me from across the room. He smiled back and shoved his pool cue at Evgeni Malkin and then came to join me on the couch.

“Having fun?” he asked.

“Yes. I don’t know what I’m drinking but it is goooood.”

Sid laughed and took a sip of his own beer. His brown eyes were slightly glassy and I could tell he was feeling pretty good himself.

“So. How is it possible that you don’t have a boyfriend?”

I blushed slightly and took a long drink from the fruity cocktail that Ryan had made me. “Lots of reasons,” I replied evasively. “I never had much time for guys. In high school, I was so focused on hockey I didn’t have time for anything else. And in college, I was so into my schoolwork I didn’t want to be distracted by a boyfriend.”

“I’ve always been a hockey maniac, but I had plenty of time for girls,” Sid replied.

“Oh really?” I raised one eyebrow and smirked.

Sid let out an embarrassed laugh and quickly turned the conversation back to me. “You can’t tell me you’ve never had a boyfriend.”

“Nothing serious. I’ve had a few flings here and there but nothing long term.”

“So now that you’re over your hockey obsession and you’re done with school, does that mean you’re on the market?”

“On the market?” I repeated. “I didn’t realize I was a piece of real estate. But no, I am not ‘on the market.’ I’m going to be really busy with moving and starting my job.”

“You’re making excuses.” I stared into my drink, unsure of what to say. To my relief, Evgeni came over at that moment with a tray of shots.

“Make Canada proud,” he said to us with a thick Russian accent. He handed us both a shot glass full of vodka and then took one for himself. He downed it without flinching and motioned for us to do the same.

“This isn’t fair, Geno,” Sidney replied. “This stuff was probably in your bottle.”

“No excuses,” Geno replied.

I grinned and tapped my shot glass against Sid’s. “To Canada,” I toasted.

“To Canada,” he repeated, emptying the glass.

No comments: