Every hockey fan might want to know how Sidney Crosby is doing these days, but one lucky 11-year-old got to ask him over the phone.
Matthew Mancini, who lives in Thorold, Ont., won the chance to speak with Crosby on Wednesday afternoon through Wind Mobile's Best Conversation Ever competition. The competition allows five Canadians to speak to the person of their dreams and donates $100,000 to the Canadian charity of that person's choice. Crosby requested that the funds go to the Sidney Crosby Foundation, which benefits children and children's charities.
Matthew, who has been deaf since age four and in January was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, the same form of cancer that Terry Fox had, chatted with the Pittsburgh captain about the hardest players to face, whether or not Crosby has ever been hooked up to an I.V. – a regular part of Mancini's cancer treatment – and baseball, since the boy just went to his first Blue Jays game the night before.
The hard roads both are travelling were not discussed. Instead, it was simply a chance for a kid to talk to his hero the same way he'd talk to one of his friends.
"He's been a huge Sidney Crosby fan every since he was little," Matthew's mother, Maria Ruggi, said. "It's funny, because his dad and his brother both cheer for the Leafs."
Rod Mawhood, Ms. Ruggi's boyfriend, says that Matthew idolizes Crosby the way an earlier generation of kids looked up to Wayne Gretzky.
Matthew learned that he would be talking to Crosby over the weekend following his latest round of chemotherapy.
"One of the questions he wanted to ask Sidney today was 'How many pills can you pop at once?' Because he takes up to 40 pills a day," Mawhood said. But Matthew is also just a "typical Canadian kid" who idolizes Crosby, Mawhood added, his bedroom filled with posters, stickers pins and other paraphernalia.
Matthew wore the light blue jersey Crosby was wearing when he was injured earlier this year, a sign of solidarity with his favourite player. His concern also led him to ask a question that has been on many people's minds lately: "How are you feeling?"
Crosby told him that he misses being out on the ice but is doing well and looking forward to playing again this season.
The 24-year-old native of Cole Harbour, N.S., has not played since suffering two concussions within a week in January.
The silence surrounding his recovery has left people to wonder if and when the NHL star will return to the ice. But while Crosby might be keen to play again, whether he's fit to do so remains to be seen.
But there's no doubt that Matthew takes heart in Sid the Kid's desire to return to hockey.
And, he said, it's good to know he's feeling well enough to joke around. After Matthew told Crosby that he plays defence on his hockey team, Crosby told him that defenceman aren't always so nice to him and so he's not sure if he likes defencemen all that much.