As a local reporter few assignments take you to a small town in southern Pennsylvania searching for the not-so-humble abodes of current and future NHL hall-of-famers.

Jamie Long, CBC News

Jamie Long (CBC)

The NHL playoffs turned out to be my ticket and the highlight of 2013.

I spend most of my time in the newsroom writing and producing, but last May I covered the Ottawa Senators as the young underdogs took on the Montreal Canadiens and Pittsburgh Penguins.

Bell Centre subdued

The scene outside the Bell Centre was subdued and calm, not a rioter in sight. (Jamie Long/CBC)

Dan Séguin, Stu Mills and I covered the team on radio, television and online as our lives were consumed with playoff hockey — and all of the related nuggets that come with it.

The atmosphere inside the Bell Centre was something I’d always wanted to digest in person, and what’s the only thing better than watching a playoff game in Montreal? Watching three playoff games in Montreal.

When the Habs lost in five games, I was expecting some sort of riot outside the Bell Centre. But when I left the building, there was a strange calm and acceptance rare for a demanding Montreal fan base.

Headed to southern Pennsylvania

The second round cued a drive to Pittsburgh spanning almost nine hours winding through northern New York and the Pennsylvania countryside.

The series was terribly one-sided. Only a wonky schedule gave us more days in the steel city than in la belle province.

That helped acquaint Stu Mills and I with Sewickley, Pa., a unique town with a few interesting features:

Sidney Crosby's home

Sid the Kid's new home in Sewickley was set to be finished this past fall, Stu Mills was told last spring. (Stu Mills/CBC)

  • Mario Lemieux, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and other current and former Penguins live there.
  • Evgeni Malkin moved his parents there from Russia.
  • Their neighbourhood is exempt from Google Streetview.

Stu Mills is a sleuth. Within minutes, he talked to landscapers who pointed him to Lemieux’s home. Then he found Crosby’s new home, which was still under construction, and a construction worker building Crosby’s large pool house.

We created a photo gallery of the Sewickley tour.

Beer bet leads to funny experience

You might also remember a friendly bet between the mayors of Ottawa and Pittsburgh where the losing city would cough up a six-pack of beer.

On our way to Sewickley, we stopped in at the Pittsburgh Brewing Company in an old, rundown building in Lawrenceville, an industrial sector of Pittsburgh.

When we arrived memorabilia laid strewn about with years of history in each and every empty can and photo of past brewers.

hi-ott-ironcitybeer-852

Iron City Beer would have been in the hands of Mayor Jim Watson had the Sens pulled off the upset.

Coincidentally, the brewery fired its CEO mere days earlier so we were given full access to some neat artifacts.

Yes, we covered hockey, too, and the atmosphere inside the Consol Energy Center was impressive. Mario and Sid have spoiled Penguins fans over the past few decades.

It would have been nice to visit Boston, too, but the Pesky Sens overachieved in 2012-13. It was a nice ride in the playoffs — until next year.