Sid the Kid needs to follow the Great One's example

JODY VANCE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 6:13 AM ET

It makes sense and is even rather cool that Sidney Crosby has launched his own clothing line in conjunction with Reebok, Sport Chek and National Sports.

Just in time for "back to school" we can expect to see young NHL fans suited up in Crosby gear this fall wearing his T-shirts, hoodies, hats and, of course, the must-have athletic shoes.

Even young ladies get to join in the fun by donning the "I (heart) Crosby" tops.

You must applaud the idea of a new, hip brand targeting the young hockey fan, but there is one thing missing from this marketing equation.

Where is the charity element? If there is one, I can't find it.

Let me take you back to the original hockey clothing line launch. It was September 1998 when I was asked to host the "fall launch" of The Wayne Gretzky Collection at a Bay outlet in Vancouver.

Like Crosby Tuesday, amidst the paparazzi, Wayne "sold it" as only a superstar by birth can.

The Great One took hours, and I'm not exaggerating, to sign hundreds, upon hundreds of autographs. He was supposed to be there 45 minutes, but knowing the faithful had lined up since the wee hours to get wristbands, he stayed until the very last one was inked.

I laughed out loud at how some super-savvy Gretzky fans got around the age limit of "15 years and under" -- by putting wristbands around car seats and strollers... but I digress.

Amid all of the organized chaos, Wayne's message was loud and clear: Part of the proceeds would go to support P.E.B.B.L.E.S. -- Providing Education By Bringing Learning Environments to Students. This charity, created in no small part by Gretzky, funds two-way live audio/visual communication between classrooms and hospitalized kids who can't attend school due to illness or injury.

For Sid, this can't be "just" about making money, can it?

We know after signing a five-year extension with the Penguins recently for a cool US$43.5 million, the 20-year-old Pittsburgh captain hardly needs the RBK revenue.

If Sid the Kid is truly tearing a page out of the PR book written by Gretzky, he needs to make sure he is giving back as he grows his brand.

Jody Vance is a sportscaster with Leafs TV. Her columns appear Tuesdays and Thursdays in 24 hours.


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