PITTSBURGH -- The Kid really should have been home in bed in the first place.
But no, on a day in "Steeler" town warm enough for golf and just a few hours before his team played the Senators, he stood in the middle of the Penguins dressing room patiently answering many familiar questions.
He was wearing a toque, a heavy coat and sniffling.
"I usually go through this once a year," Sid "The Kid" Crosby said of the cold he has fought the last couple of days, and kept him out of last night's lineup.
He was asked if he may have caught it off one of "Mario's" young ones, a reference to the fact he lives with his boss, part-Penguins owner Mario Lemieux and his family.
"I hope not," he said, breaking into a smile. "If I did, they're in big trouble."
Despite the nickname, Crosby, who's just 18 himself, has in fact become the man in Pittsburgh.
Playing for the NHL's second worst team, he has watched a sinking ship get lighter with Lemieux and another star, Zigmund Palffy, hanging up the blades in the past month. There is more of the load on his shoulders than ever before, yet he refuses to buckle.
"There's probably a little more responsibility now ... those are two great players you can't replace," said Sid. "Everyone has to step up and do the best they can to fill the void. We're going to learn things at a young age other guys take awhile to get."
Crosby is clearly a tremendous student. Bob Errey, a former NHLer who now provides colour for Pens broadcasts, casually states that he has been Pittsburgh's best player in all but maybe two of the team's games.
"And he's been the best player on the ice in more than half," says Errey.
Others who have watched the native of Cole Harbour, N.S., work every night compare Crosby to Peter Forsberg, pointing to The Kid's competitiveness.
"I think I'll wait to do that after 82 games," Crosby said when asked to sum up his rookie year. "There's always tough times and good times in a season ... unfortunately, this one has been a little tougher. But there are still some games left and we have to make the best of it ... we have to make sure we do our best every night. It's important we don't lose sight of the fact we're playing in the NHL."
Crosby's best has included 25 goals and 35 assists in 53 games. His 60 points are five less than Washington freshman Alexander Ovechkin, who is two years older and doesn't have constant reminders of the possibility his team could relocate in 2007-08.
Crosby says he and Lemieux never discuss the tenuous status of the Pens franchise, and that he doesn't let the talk of moving bother him.
"It's something that's totally out of our control," he said. "We'd love to stay here. It's a great city and we feel the support fans give us. All you can do is cross your fingers."