Emotional Sidney Crosby honoured during jersey retirement ceremony in Rimouski
QMJHL surprised the NHL star by retiring his number league-wide, a first
The standing ovation lasted eight minutes and forced Sidney Crosby, clad in a dark suit instead of the Penguins black, gold and white, to fight back tears.
Prior to puck drop between the Rimouski Océanic and Sherbrooke Phoenix Friday night, all the attention was on the Pittsburgh Penguins captain, who returned to Rimouski. Que., for a pre-game ceremony in his honour by the club he spent two seasons playing for in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Crosby was in attendance to have his No. 87 retired by the Océanic, the team that drafted him first overall in 2003.
"Some amazing memories here. It's pretty emotional," Crosby told the crowd. "I had two amazing years here. My best friends to this day played here, trained here and coached me here."
The QMJHL went one step further by announcing his number would be retired league-wide, a first — and an announcement that took Crosby by surprise.
Watch Crosby explain how he felt during the ovation and his reaction to that surprise:
The 5,000-capacity Colisée Financière SunLife arena, home of the Océanic, was filled to capacity. More than 15 years after Crosby left Rimouski, he is still a fan favourite.
"I've been following his career since his first year with the Océanic," said Francis Marois. He said he circled Friday's date in red on his calendar when he learned about the ceremony.
"He is my favourite player [because of] his talent on the ice, but also because he is a great man."
The team's co-owner, Alexandre Tanguay, said Crosby put the Océanic on the map and inspired a generation of players in the region.
"Sidney, you touched people with your generosity, your compassion, your attention to detail, the love you have for the Océanic."
The Océanic then went out and pulled off a 4-3 overtime win against the Phoenix.
It was only fitting that Alexis Lafrenière — who is projected to go No. 1 at the 2020 NHL draft and has been compared to Crosby since joining Rimouski — scored the winner 4:38 into the extra period.
Crosby, a native of Cole Harbour, N.S., joined the Océanic for the 2003-04 season and set the scoring record for 16 year olds with 54 goals and 135 points in 59 games. He continued to dominate in his second season with a league-high 66 goals and 168 points.
Rimouski won the President Cup in 2005, with Crosby earning playoff MVP honours for his performance.
With files from Radio-Canada