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The Traveling Crosbys come to Pittsburgh

by Michelle Crechiolo @PensInsideScoop / Penguins Team Reporter

Move over, The Traveling Jagrs. There's a new group in the National Hockey League. At least for a weekend.

For the Penguins' back-to-back home games on Saturday and Sunday, a group of 24 guys from Sidney Crosby's hometown of Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia came down to Pittsburgh to watch the local kid - all wearing jerseys from different organizations he's played for over the years.

"One of our buddies was like, 'why don't we wear different Sidney Crosby jerseys?'" said Aaron Akitt, who's six years older than Crosby and grew up playing street hockey with him.

"Then it kind of just grew from there. Someone was like, 'I've got this real old one,' and then next thing you know, we're all wearing these old jerseys and we have one from pretty much every organization he played with."

The idea for this particular trip began after the 2017-18 schedule first came out, and the guys saw that the Penguins were hosting Montreal and Washington on a weekend.

"We were talking about coming down here as a group for a long time, then a few of us said let's book it and we're sure there will be other guys who will want to join," said Sean Hurley, who's a year older than Crosby and played on the same youth teams as him.

"So there were about three or four of us that booked our flights after having a couple beers together, and then there were a lot more that slowly started adding on, even a few guys in the last couple weeks. So it ended up going from a few guys to 24 guys."

As the travel plans were being finalized - coming to a head when the boys played in a charity game called the Generation Cup over the holidays - the process of procuring the jerseys got underway.

"A lot went into it. There's a few guys that really went to work hard," said Matt Foston, a close friend of Crosby's. "Some jerseys were ordered from overseas. Then other ones, we went and picked up. A lot of guys we know either played with Sid or had something."

They ended up finding one for every single team Crosby had ever played for at every level of hockey, starting with the youth organizations he skated for, most notably the Cole Harbour Wings and Dartmouth Subways.

But they even managed to get jerseys from other teams people might not have even realized Crosby played for, like the Truro Bearcats of the Maritime Junior A Hockey League. Crosby played just two games for them as a 14-year-old, and that time, albeit brief, was represented.

"There were a couple special ones, too," Hurley said. "Like for the Midget AAA National Championship, they wore a Team Atlantic jersey, so we have that one."

Then, of course, they had different jerseys from Crosby's time with Shattuck-St. Mary's, Rimouski, Team Canada and the Penguins. But it wasn't about fighting over what jersey to wear. It was about fighting over what jersey not to wear, and that was Crosby's TimBits jersey from 1993.

"There's a few of those (Crosby Penguins jerseys)," Hurley said. "A few people are wearing those. It's pretty much trying not to wear the TimBits jersey (laughs)."

That honor went to Justin Dowding, who handled the constant chirping from his buddies all weekend long with good humor.

"I drew the short straw on that one," Dowding joked.

"We're actually all jealous that he could fit into it," Foston added with a laugh.

While Foston has been to Pittsburgh before, a lot of the guys in the group hadn't and enjoyed seeing the city and taking in a couple of games - and Crosby was happy to have them in town.

"He liked it. He actually thought it was hilarious," Foston said. "Like he usually does, he wanted to know a little bit more about things. He wanted to know who was going, what was going on, what we were doing. He's been checking in on things. But overall, he thought it was hilarious and hopefully we haven't embarrassed him too much."

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