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— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) July 15, 2016
Pens captain Sidney Crosby was asked about the Stanley Cup a few times by campers attending his second annual hockey school, which took place this week at his hometown rink of Cole Harbour Place.
He told them it coming to town on Saturday, which is when there will be a big celebration – including a parade – going on in the city to commemorate the Pens’ championship.
“I said it was coming tomorrow,” Crosby said with a grin. “Everybody knows there’s something going on in Cole Harbour tomorrow morning.”
What they didn’t know was that Crosby had actually planned all along to surprise the kids with Lord Stanley’s silver chalice, scheduling his time with the Cup to coincide with their last day of camp.
“It’s going to be fun to see the looks on their faces when we arrive,” Crosby said on the drive over to the rink.
And it was certainly priceless to see the kids’ reactions once they realized what was happening.
“I was really surprised and I was really happy,” said 12-year-old Jacob Dickie. “I didn’t know it was coming. That’s what made it a bigger surprise.”
The volunteers staffing the camp had the kids line up in order of height so they could get them on the ice quickly for what they thought were group photos. That’s when Crosby, holding the Cup, skated out to join them and stayed out for each picture along with the Conn Smythe Trophy for playoff MVP.
“It meant everything,” said 12-year-old Cooper Fink about Crosby bringing the hardware out for them. “Just to see the Stanley Cup in person is crazy after you see it on TV and stuff.”
That’s a feeling Crosby remembers well, and one he wanted to share.
“I remember going to the Hockey Hall of Fame when I was playing minor hockey and had a tournament out there,” he said. “We just went and was able to see it, that was pretty special. I remember going to the gift shop, and anything I could find with the Stanley Cup logo on it I was trying to get my hands on it.
“As a kid, I was just happy to be able to see it. I didn’t think I might ever get that chance. There’s no NHL team in Halifax here and I just didn’t ever expect to have that opportunity. I think I was just happy seeing it up close.”
That would probably have been enough for these kids. But for Crosby, their hero and role model, to be the one giving them that opportunity after captaining his team to the championship? That’s, to use one of his words, priceless.
“I literally wouldn’t be playing hockey if it wasn’t for him,” said 12-year-old Maya Gite, who came all the way from Houston, Texas. “He’s really generous and a really great guy. Just to bring the Stanley Cup to us, it means so much to me.”
And for the campers who have grown up in the area, watching him bring it onto the ice he played on as a kid resonated deeply with them.
“Everywhere we go we see Sid stuff and this is where he’s been, this is one of his things he did when he grew up and was our age,” Fink said. “That’s the coolest thing.”