By Jeff Gard/Today’s Northumberland
Port Hope’s Crosby Mercer didn’t get to watch Thursday afternoon’s Next Gen game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Philadelphia Flyers, even if he did get a permission form signed by Leafs president Brendan Shanahan.
Unfortunately the permission form to miss school for the game – a 4-3 Maple Leafs win over the Flyers at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto – wasn’t real, although he did enjoy attending Tuesday night’s victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Instead, the 11-year-old Mercer’s involvement was in the form of promoting the Next Gen game as he featured prominently in a video from Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment (MLSE) where a group of children show up at the office of Shanahan.
When Shanahan opens the door, Mercer says “Mr. Shanahan, we have a problem. The Next Gen Game is on a school day.”
Shanahan responds: “And what do you want me to do about it?” Mercer hands him a permission form to sign as the video continued, including Shanahan examining and reading the letter before signing it.
That promo video was recorded last Thursday in Toronto and took less than an hour. Mercer enjoyed working with Shanahan, as brief as it was.
“It was great. (He was) very nice and very big. I thought I was looking up too high every time I went to look at him,” Mercer said, praising the Leafs president for his acting skills. “He seemed to understand what we were doing. I’m surprised that he did so well because I wouldn’t think that many people at his level would really do that.”
Mercer also recorded a voice-over for an intro video for Thursday’s Next Gen game. He did so at home earlier this week “in his closest” to get the best sound quality possible.
In addition to other acting roles, this wasn’t Mercer’s first experience working with MLSE. In 2019 when he was just eight, he was part of a video shoot where he interviewed (now former) Maple Leafs players Zach Hyman and Travis Dermott. It was his final gig prior to COVID shutdowns.
“The experience was great,” Mercer remarked. “MSLE treats me great. The players are very nice.”
He was involved in a Next Gen game around that time as well, interviewing coach Sheldon Keefe and mascot Carleton.
Last month, Mercer – known in the video as Mr. Crosby – recorded another video for MLSE, asking hard-hitting questions at Toronto Marlies practice such as the players’ preferences when it came to ‘cats or dogs, Batman or Superman, if they believe in Bigfoot, aliens, is a hot dog a sandwich and ice cream or popsicles?
There was great banter on and off camera.
“They’re funny, they’re very nice and they really liked my bow tie,” Mercer said. He has a business, Bro’s Bows with his brother Kallaway, who plays for the Cobourg Cougars.
Despite his young age, Mercer isn’t fazed interviewing professional hockey players.
“I like talking to people and I like talking to players,” he said. “I just find it fun. I like to have fun with the players.”
Mercer considers the Maple Leafs to be his favourite team. He also plays in the Northumberland Minor Hockey organization.
While he’s not sure what his future holds in broadcasting, Mercer has enjoyed the opportunities he’s received so far.
“I’m getting more into hockey, but I’ll see where I end up.”