Tampa Bay Lightning coach Guy Boucher has stories about Penguins star Sidney Crosby
Tampa Bay Lightning coach Guy Boucher knows Penguins star Sidney Crosby as and "extremely humble guy," as well as "a soft-spoken respectful individual."
"You'd never know this guy has grit," Boucher added. "You get him on the ice and he's a fireball out there."
Boucher in 2004-05 was an assistant coach for Rimouski of the Quebec junior league. Crosby was in his second season for the Oceanic. Five years later, they will face each other Wednesday at the St. Pete Times Forum. But this is a rivalry that has stayed very friendly. In fact, Boucher on Monday spent a good 10 or 15 minutes after Lightning practice telling stories about Crosby.
This is one of the nice parts of the job, listening to two people, on opposite teams, recall stories and explain the respect they have for each other.
Boucher told of how Crosby, now one of the faces of the league, would ask Boucher to cross-check him "from one hash mark to the other because he wanted to practice the battle skills." Then there were the times he said Crosby would come to the rink on days off and get the Zamboni driver to let him in so he could skate on his own.
But his favorite story was one about Crosby off the ice as Rimouski returned home after a road game and saw people lined up at the arena to buy playoff tickets.
"Probably the most amazing thing I've seen of him was when he was 16 years old," Boucher said. "We were going into the playoffs and we were coming back late, and there were a lot of people outside. The people had stayed overnight to get tickets. He didn't say anything. He went to Tim Hortons and got muffins and donuts and juices and coffee for everybody and shook everybody's hand and thanked them for being there, so that was different."
Crosby on Tuesday said he was not the only player to participate.
"We used to have fans sleep overnight and wait for tickets to go on sale," Crosby said. "I got a few players together and thanked them. "We were pretty thankful for the support we had in junior, and Guy and the whole coaching staff we had in Rimouski were a big part in developing the players and making sure we learned things on and off the ice as well."
"He's always been very mature," Boucher said of Crosby. "At 16, you couldn't believe he was 16. He never went out. He never drank. He wouldn't eat any sugars. His desert was yogurt-covered raisins. He didn't drink Coke; total, total dedication. It's desire, commitment to pay the price every day."
And Crosby's recollection of Boucher?
"I remember doing a lot of one-on-one stuff on the ice," he said. "He always worked a lot of the skill side of things. He worked individually with guys a lot. ... And everybody is different. He understands that and that everyone is motivated in a different way. He does a great job of understanding that and applying it."