Sidney Crosby plays between the pipes in Dek hockey game

Crosby poses in his gear. (Seth Rorabaugh)

Sidney Crosby is one hell of a hockey player, in case you haven't realized that by now. He is probably the best there is in the world and is a scoring machine for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

But oh, he's so much more than that.

Crosby too advantage of this loads of free time he has thanks to the lockout by getting back to his roots and playing some Dek hockey -- or ball hockey -- between the pipes. Hey, if a guy isn't playing over in Europe he has to spend the lockout somehow, why not have a little fun?

Now when you're Sidney Crosby and you want to play Dek hockey in the Pittsburgh area, you get to go play Dek hockey. Of course it still helps, even for him, to have friends to get you in the door if you don't want people to know it's you. From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

"My buddy plays in the league there. I talked to him about playing," Crosby said. "I played a lot of goalie in street hockey growing up and stuff. Just asked if he needed a goalie. He said sure and I came out. It was cool."

Whether you have the best goalie in the history of Dek hockey on your team already or not, are you really going to say no to Crosby if he wants to play between the pipes for one game? Of course not, at least I wouldn't. Heck, I would be proud if I were the goalie being benched.

What made it all the better was the fact that Crosby didn't announce his presence or anything. If they knew it was him, they knew, no big deal, but it wasn't like he was wearing his No. 87 Penguins sweater either.

"I had all the [goaltending] gear on," Crosby said. "I was talking to the ref once toward the end of the game and I think he recognized me."

"My referee walked over just to kind of say, 'Hey, you're not the normal goalie. It's about time they get a goalie.' " said Chris Evans, general manager of Dek Star. "Instead, he looked at him and he was like, 'Holy [cow] that's Sidney Crosby.' "

"The other team played against him for an hour and had no idea. They didn't even know until I told them until after he left."

It has a feel of those excellent Pepsi ads featuring NBA star Kyrie Irving (seriously, you should watch this, it's awesome) -- a professional coming in and schooling the regulars. Really, that's what he did. Crosby pitched a shutout for 4-0 win.

It's stories like this that I love and it reminds me of the fun in it all. Sure, this received attention, but Crosby didn't do this for anything but the fun/love of playing some hockey, any kind of hockey. In addition to playing on outdoor rinks as a kid in Canada, Crosby played a lot of street hockey -- as a goaltender, no less -- so this was like returning to his roots for a night.

It had to be a lot of fun and not to mention a thrill for all the other guys playing that night, whether they were aware it was him or not.

The lockout has categorically sucked, there aren't two ways around it. I'd trade all of the good lockout stories for a season that started on time. With that said, the stories of spontaneous efforts to go play the game like this and the street hockey games like Mike Richards and Andrew Ladd put on in Winnipeg as well as the charity games have been awesome.

Oh, and P.S.: Watch out Marc Andre-Fleury and Tomas Vokoun, Crosby is coming for you.

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