Blake Rawson, a 20 year-old university student in Toronto, has long been told he bears an uncanny resemblance to Crosby. An NHL marketing executive spotted Rawson at a Tim Hortons and mentioned the idea of hiring a look-alike Crosby as a joke to Bettman. Within in minutes the commissioner had signed Rawson to a contract.
"I don't know much about hockey or follow it very closely," said Bettman. "But I know that Sidney Crosby's continued absence will hurt NHL ratings as the playoffs approach. Getting a Crosby impersonator in there was an obvious decision."
In addition to having Rawson suit up for Pittsburgh in Crosby's No. 87 jersey, Bettman is making him available for NHL-themed events and birthday parties. So far the Crosby look-alike is booked on weekends through April. Several requests in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. were turned down when the league learned the "childrens' birthday parties" were nothing more than Flyers and Capitals fans hoping to beat up someone who looks like Sidney Crosby in an alley.
"At $35 an hour, we can really add to the league's coffers," said Bettman. "I'm hoping to get him some lessons on how to make balloon animals."
Unfortunately for the Penguins, who remain 4th in the Eastern Conference despite the absences of Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, the Crosby impersonator has no hockey background.
"For whatever reason, I just never really learned how to skate," said Rawson.
While Rawson will likely drag down the scoring punch of Pittsburgh's top line, his inability to skate will also make him easy to knock down, meaning he will at least match Crosby's ability to draw penalties. It is also expected he will serve a purpose blocking some shots when his body is sprawled out on the ice.
"The guy is terrible at hockey," said Penguins coach Dan Bylsma. "But I think just having a guy in the locker room who kind of looks like Sid will raise the team's spirits."
Bettman also announced that the NHL has hired an Alexander Ovechkin look-alike who will continue playing when the Capitals are knocked out of the playoffs in the first round.