Workers prepare the surface of an ice rink at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/David Duprey
Sid gets to be the Kid again New Year's Day in Buffalo and he can't wait.
"I thought my outdoor days were done for sure," Sidney Crosby said Friday.
The 20-year-old superstar centre from the Pittsburgh Penguins was on an NHL media conference call in anticipation of Tuesday's Winter Classic game at Ralph Wilson Stadium against the Sabres, the NHL's second foray outdoors after the November 2003 Heritage Classic in Edmonton between the Oilers and Montreal Canadiens.
Back then, Crosby was still a junior with the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's Rimouski Oceanic.
"I think we actually played that day so I didn't get to see much of it," Crosby said of the 2003 affair at Commonwealth Stadium. "But it looked freezing. I can remember (Jose) Theodore having the tuque on his goalie mask. There's something about playing outside. It kind of brings you back. There's something special about being outside and playing a game."
Crosby doesn't have to go back to his childhood days in Cole Harbour, N.S., to rekindle his last outdoor skate. He revealed Friday that he snuck out for more than a few outdoor skates during his junior days in Rimouski.
"I can remember during some off-days I'd have my trainer sneak my skates in my car and I used to go shoot outside and play outside," Crosby said with a chuckle. "We'd also have 3-on-3 games outdoors with guys on our team. We enjoyed that a lot. I can remember playing under the lights, that was the best time. They'd flood the ice around 8:30 p.m. and think everyone done's for the day and I'd sneak out around 9 or 9:30 ...
"I had a lot of fun doing that and I'm really looking forward to playing outside again."
He'll get his first look at the outdoor rink at Ralph Wilson Stadium during his team's practice there Monday afternoon on the eve of the big game Tuesday (1 p.m. ET).
"The big thing I'm thinking about is probably the wind," said Crosby. "As far as the cold, we've all prepared for that in some way growing up when we were playing outside. But I think the wind could be a factor. You look at football, and coin tosses and things like that, if we're going into the wind for two periods it might be a bit different."
Because the game will be played in the early afternoon, the sun could also be a factor if it's a clear day. Crosby sounded surprised when a reporter asked him whether he'd thought about wearing eye black like football and baseball players do to fight off the sun's glare.
"That never even crossed my mind," said Crosby. "But that may be something that's an issue, too. That could be a possibility, but I'd look pretty funny though."
He's been thinking about what he's going to wear, too.
"I think they've talked to the football people about maybe something that's going to cover your neck and your head," said Crosby. "Definitely you're probably going to be changing your long underwear between periods, at least your top shirt. We'll have to see about gloves and see if guys are comfortable wearing winter gloves underneath your own gloves - they'd have to be pretty thin. I'm sure there's a few ideas bouncing around.
"We get the opportunity to practise the day before so I think that's where you will see some of the adjustments."
Playing in front of more than 70,000 fans will also be a first for Crosby. He says he isn't sure what to expect on that front.
"The weather might have something to do with how wild they are," he said. "If it's freezing they might not be quite as loud, it might be a little long for them out there. But it's something we're all looking forward to, to play in front of that many people. We're on the road, but we know there's a lot of people that will go to that game and pull for our team, too."
Either way, you won't hear Crosby whine about anything in Buffalo. With his parents on hand to watch, Crosby is treating the Winter Classic as a special moment in his already highlight-filled career.
"It could have been other teams doing this so I think we all feel lucky to have this chance," said Crosby.