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The Inside Scoop: Welcome to Cole Harbour

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins
Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia -- home of Sidney Crosby. While it's a town many of us in Pittsburgh have heard and read so much about with our franchise player being born and raised there, I never thought I would actually get the chance to visit it. However, with the first annual Sidney Crosby Hockey School being hosted there this week, a few Pens staffers were given the incredible opportunity to come up and cover it for a few days.

I flew up on Sunday night with our senior director of communications Jen Bullano of @PensPRLady. It wasn't the smoothest trip, as we were delayed over two hours, but we finally made it to our hotel in nearby Halifax at 3 a.m. and were able to get up and head out on time this morning despite only getting three hours of sleep.

The camp began today and runs through Friday at Cole Harbour Place, the arena that Sid grew up playing in. It's actually a community center that has a pool and a library in addition to two sheets of ice, and it's so big that we kept getting lost in it when we first arrived. Thankfully, we finally began to figure out our way around as the day went on.

A few quick details about the camp: there are 160 kids between the ages of 8-12 enrolled. While they're mostly from Canada and the United States, I believe there are actually a few kids here from Japan (I'll hopefully have more on them later). Each day goes from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. local time (they're an hour ahead of us here) and their schedules include on-ice skill development, dryland and other off-ice activities and special guest presentations.

I'll be writing more in-depth features about the camp itself and other topics later in the week (and we'll be doing interviews with Sid at some point), but today, I wanted to focus on getting a ton of photos, so I spent the day getting pictures of Crosby on the ice with the campers and of Cole Harbour Place itself.

It's just so cool to see the rink the best player in the world grew up playing in and all of the tributes to him that are in it now, and I wanted you guys to share in that as well. I've posted a bunch of those photos in this blog; the full gallery, which has almost 100 pics, can be accessed here.

After finishing his morning training, Sidney arrived at the arena around 11 a.m. He immediately put on his track suit, skates and gloves (which are all CCM brand now) and took the ice for his first session of the day, which was with the goalies. Sidney's younger sister Taylor, who's a netminder, is an instructor at the camp as well and was out there with him. She even donned the pads and gloves.

After that, I walked around the rink for a while. My first stop was at a display case honoring Cole Harbour's hometown hero.

Each section focuses on a different part of Crosby's career. The far left is from growing up playing in Cole Harbour, the middle is centered (no pun intended) on high school at Shattuck-St.  Mary's and juniors, and the right covers his pro and Olympic achievements.

I've chosen to share a bunch from my absolute favorite section of the display case, the far left, because it's just so awesome seeing Crosby as a little guy.

There's so much to love about this player profile... but I think my favorite part, which I just now noticed, is that Sid listed his favorite NHL player as Mario Lemieux.

Look at Sid just cheesing!

Crosby's dad Troy, a goaltender who played junior hockey for Verdun of the QMJHL, was drafted in the 12th round (240th overall) of the 1984 NHL Draft by Montreal. Sidney was born three years later and eventually rocked this tiny sweatsuit out.

"The Montreal Canadiens are hoping to draft Sidney in the year 2004." Thankfully, we got him instead.

45 goals in 18 games. FORTY-FIVE.

That headline certainly turned out to be true.

I can't get enough of these pictures of young Sid...

Last one, unfortunately.

I'm thinking this must be his membership card for the community center.

After I finished snapping photos of the display case, I moved on to the pro shop downstairs, which is now owned by Crosby's former PeeWee coach Paul Mason (who's also the organizer of his hockey school).

While the showcase upstairs was completely dedicated to Crosby, this area of the arena honors both him and Cole Harbour's other first-overall pick: Nathan MacKinnon, selected in 2013 by the Colorado Avalanche. The 19-year-old MacKinnon is one of Sid's good friends – they work out together a lot in the summer – and he'll be helping out at the camp all week.

Here's the window of the pro shop...

And a few more from inside.

Finally, I went back to the rink and snapped more pics of Crosby skating with the campers. He did not leave the ice surface until the day wrapped up at 4 p.m.; I think he was out for at least five or six total sessions.

Crosby skated to the bench, searched for this roll of tape for a few minutes then went over and personally fixed this kid's shinpads.

Again, the full gallery – which has a TON of photos – is here. Stay tuned for more coverage throughout the next few days!

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