MONTREAL — For the next few days, he’ll likely be public enemy No. 1 in this city. But for one brief moment Tuesday, Sidney Crosby enjoyed a hero’s welcome in Montreal.
The Pittsburgh Penguins superstar was surrounded by an adoring crowd of schoolchildren outside his Old Montreal hotel on Tuesday morning.
Dressed in a dark blue suit, Crosby patiently signed more than a dozen autographs before boarding the team bus on his way to practice.
Crosby grew up as a Montreal Canadiens fan; he endeared himself to fans here by learning French while playing junior hockey in Quebec, and he’s a national hero across Canada.
Despite all that, he might not want to count on receiving too much adulation over the coming days.
As his Penguins arrived to square off in Montreal against the Canadiens for Game 3 of their quarter-final series, there were signs the city might be willing to temporarily suspend its affection for Crosby.
A restaurant on St-Denis Street laid out a white No. 87 Crosby jersey over a red carpet on the sidewalk, so that patrons could stomp on it.
That jersey was already soggy and stained with black footprints by the time the weekend was over.
And when Crosby and the Pens returned Tuesday from their morning practice at the Bell Centre, there was a different reaction as they scurried off the team bus and back into the hotel.
A few passersby booed.
Crosby is taking the roller-coaster of reaction in stride.
“You don’t really leave the hotel in the playoffs anyway,” the Pens’ captain told reporters at the Bell Centre.
“If anything, you turn the TV off even more. But that’s not a bad thing. It’s an opportunity to play hockey in a great hockey place and that makes the challenge even greater.”