COLE HARBOUR — Sidney Crosby’s the big fish in Cole Harbour.
But Crosby refuses to allow hockey fame to change the way he interacts with his community and the people he grew up with.
“I didn’t really walk around Cole Harbour that much anyway,” the Pittsburgh Penguins captain said when asked at a news conference Wednesday if he could move around his hometown unnoticed during the summer and throughout his weeklong international hockey school at Cole Harbour Place.
“I was either at the rink or on my street. I walked to school, that was about it. Being surrounded by the people that you are close to, there is a certain comfort level there whether it’s coming back to this area or spending time with those people wherever. You’re home regardless of whether it’s right here in Cole Harbour or somewhere else.”
Crosby will bring the Stanley Cup that he helped the Penguins win last month home for two days, including a much-anticipated Saturday parade.
The parade begins at 10:30 a.m. at Saint John XXIII Church on Colby Drive and goes along Cumberland Drive and Forest Hills Parkway to conclude at Cole Harbour Place.
“The route is a little shorter,” he said, comparing Saturday’s party to the 2009 parade after the Penguins won the Cup. “Other than that, I would expect it would be pretty similar. I’m hoping it’s a great turnout like last time was. People are excited. It’s pretty special, you bring it all the way through here and down to the rink. I’m expecting it to be a lot of fun.”
The fun is all about letting people get close to the Cup.
“The best part is just being able to share it with people. There are so many people who have a hand in you winning and playing in the NHL and being part of it. There’s your teammates, your coaches and the whole organization and there are people outside of that who’ve impacted you along your hockey career, whether it’s coaches, guys you grew up playing with, guys who shared the same dream of winning the Stanley Cup, too. The fun is sharing it with all these people. Some of my buddies, they didn’t necessarily win it but that’s the closest they can get to kind of going through that experience. I think that’s what really means a lot is being able to share it with everyone.”
Crosby said the goal is to share the Cup with as many people as possible over the two days it's been allotted to him.
“You want to enjoy it, it’s going to go by quickly,” he said. “One of the best parts is just seeing the reactions on people’s faces.”
Last time around, Crosby and the Cup went water-skiing on Grand Lake, near Enfield, and he said that any number of impromptu Cup activities could happen this year.
”That’s been done already, right,” Crosby said of Stanley’s water-skiing excursion. “Someone is going to try to top that.
“The spur-of-the-moment thing is the thing you end up remembering the most. I don’t have anything planned but I’m guessing with my group of friends I’m sure there will be some good memories.”
The good NHL memories started for Crosby in 2005, when he was drafted first overall by the Pens. He’s added two league MVP awards, two scoring titles, two Olympic gold medals and now two Stanley Cups to his memory package. Last month, he earned the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable playoff performer to his team.
After 2009, fans expected the Penguins to return to the Cup final and win it all again but despite having ultra-talented teams, they could not get back there until this year. Crosby has come to appreciate the fine line between winning and losing.
“Obviously, you have to have a great team but you need some bounces, you need some luck and you need to stay healthy,” said Crosby, 28. “There are so many things that go into it. You need everybody playing at their best at the right time. I look back at those other years, we had really great teams and we had guys that played really well but we might not have had the bounces and we probably weren’t as healthy each year. If you deserve it, and do the right things, I think at the end of the day you usually find a way to come out on top. We did that. We scored the big goals when we needed them, we got huge contributions from everybody.”
Crosby picked up six goals and 19 points in 24 playoff games, including two assists in the 3-1 Stanley Cup-clinching victory over the San Jose Sharks on June 12. But it wasn’t vintage Crosby. He had trouble scoring early in the playoffs and only got his game going as the gruelling Stanley Cup tournament played out. That experience probably helps him to savour this championship more than hoisting the Cup as a 21-year-old.
For the next few days, Crosby wants to share some time with the hockey school kids and even more time with family and friends in Cole Harbour. He’s not thinking much about what his legacy to the game will be.
“I’m just kind of trying to go year by year. As a hockey player and an athlete, you are just trying to improve and get better every year.”
But he said it’s important for him to be involved in the charitable foundation and the hockey school that bear his name.
“That’s important given the position we’re in.”
He didn’t sound convinced that he was in a position to have a Cole Harbour street named in his honour, as the city has proposed.
“That’s up to other people. When I think of Forest Hills Parkway, that’s the way I remember it, but it may be different for others. It’s a compliment, I’m honoured by it but I have no expectations either way.”
Crosby’s summer will be cut short when he joins Team Canada as the host of the World Cup of Hockey over the last two weeks of September. Training camp and pre-tournament games will precede that.
“It’s a pretty short summer, that’s the challenge for going deep into the playoffs. You have to find a way to manage the work and the rest at the same time. With the World Cup right around the corner, it will be a busy summer. I feel that a big part of why I come home is to get the feeling that you’re relaxed. Even though you are training, you’re around friends and family. You get away from things a little bit and I think that’s important.”.