Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby is delighting fans in his home province of Nova Scotia by making unexpected visits with the Stanley Cup ahead his appearance in Halifax's Natal Day parade.
On Sunday morning, Crosby stopped by a children's hospital in Halifax to visit patients. The Cup's keeper, Philip Pritchard, documented the stop on Twitter.
The visit comes a couple of months after the Penguins defeated the Nashville Predators in the NHL championship final.
Kerry Maher's husband, Ben Rivard, and their eight-year-old son Hugo got to meet him.
"He walked toward the front desk and there was Sidney with the Cup," said Maher, adding her son is a fan. "You could tell he was shocked."
'It makes my heart feel full'
The interaction was captured in a video shared by his mother on Twitter. She said Crosby shook her son's hand and talked to him. Crosby also signed a mini hockey stick for Hugo and the other children at the hospital.
"To me it's so important and so incredible that he does it. It makes my heart feel full that people — even though they become who they become — they still take time for the little people in their community," said Maher.
"Just to see your kid have a smile on their face for two seconds for the day and that it lifts their spirits, it's an amazing thing that just can't be purchased ... If anybody ever says anything bad about Sidney Crosby, I will annihilate them."
'He did it for the kids'
Nick Cox, a spokesperson for the IWK, said the hospital visit was kept a secret and marked the third time Crosby has stopped by with the iconic trophy.
"It was a surprise to patients, one-on-one visits and lots of smiles," said Cox.
"He did it for the kids. It wasn't for the media, it wasn't for staff. It was just for the patients. He wanted low key and low key is what we did — as low key as you can when you're carrying the Stanley Cup through the health centre," Cox said.
'Class act individual'
Maher said Crosby is a "quality, class act individual."
She said the family was able to share the moment of Hugo meeting Crosby through video with her 87-year-old father who is a huge fan.
"It's priceless ... It's a nice gift for my dad who doesn't get to do much. He isn't very mobile and that he was able to see that today was just so wonderful," said Maher.
Crosby's next stop was to Withrows Farm Market in Belnan, N.S.
Gloria Teepell, who buys the market's giftware, arranged the visit. Crosby was in the store about a month ago and Teepell asked if he would consider coming back with hockey's most prestigious trophy.
Teepell said Crosby asked her if the event could be low key, but word got out and there was a big group of people waiting to see him when he arrived. She said Crosby took pictures with as many people as he could.
"He was just wonderful," she said. "We're just a small store out here right? And we were ecstatic ... he didn't have to do that, but he is so wonderful and down to earth. We were blessed today."
Teepell said Crosby did her a big favour by showing up at the store. She said the store's owner, Brian Withrow, told her he would be very impressed if she made the visit happen.
"And sure enough it happened and he was impressed."
Birthday cake and a onesie
Teepell said she baked a cake for Crosby, who celebrates his 30th birthday on Monday. She said the store also got him a gift: Penguins onsie pyjamas.
Crosby is set to parade the Cup through Halifax on Monday for the Natal Day Parade. He has previously shown off the hardware in his hometown of Cole Harbour, in 2009 and 2016.
This year, he will also take the Cup to Rimouski, Que.
Pritchard began documenting the visit close to midnight Saturday night. The first photo he posted was of Crosby standing in front of a plane holding the Stanley Cup over his head.