Sidney Crosby was out of the last game — and who can predict how many more — with yet another concussion. This one stems from a series of questionable Washington Capitals’ hits which has cleaved the hockey world and made twitter-verse chatter even uglier than usual. Not everybody in this country likes Crosby, especially in the playoffs, but when he is wearing the red maple leaf, we all love him as if he were some hybrid of Jean Beliveau, Gord Downie and a quart of maple syrup. Which brings us around to his Golden Goal. No need for much introduction here: “Iggy, Iggy, Iggy,” Crosby yells to Jarome Iginla, who hears him clearly, gets him the puck from the boards and suddenly Canada has its most memorable overtime goal, and a record 14th gold medal in one Winter Olympics, 7:40 into overtime. I was sitting with Post Media hockey writer Mike Traikos high up in Vancouver’s Canada Hockey Place stands, and we saw the whole play developing because it was directly across from us. “Are you (expletive deleted) kidding me,” I said inadvertently as we both sensed that Crosby was about to get the puck and go in alone on U.S. goalie Ryan Miller. Two years later in London I asked precisely the same rhetorical question, word for word and again inadvertently, when I could see the ball was about to come free to Canada’s Diana Matheson and knew she could tap it home for the bronze medal that felt like gold. I was sitting in much lower seats at the soccer game than at the hockey game but had roughly the same angle. The déjà vu was, frankly, a trifle freaky. Crosby’s goal which, to me, ranks just behind “Henderson has scored for Canada,” and “Gretzky to Lemieux,” was the only way hockey could come out of the 2010 Olympics as the lead memory. Canada had done so unexpectedly well across the Olympic board that only the best player in the world, scoring in overtime, in the very last second of competition of the entire Games to give Canada the goldmedal record, could have elevated hockey even slightly above the other sports. By that logic, then, Zach Parise’s goal for the Americans, with 25 seconds left in regulation time to tie the score at 2-2 was a crucial enabler for our expanding sports mythology. And here’s something that forever connects the tying goal and the winner, by opposing teams, that I didn’t discover until a year later when I was working on “The Hockey Hall of Fame Book of Jerseys.” Parise and Crosby both went to Shattuck-St. Mary’s prep school in Faribault, Minnesota to prepare themselves for their NHL paths, Crosby’s through major junior, Parise’s through the U.S. college system. Because of people like Parise’s late father, J.P. Parise, who coached there, Shattuck-St. Mary’s treated the No. 9 the way it was treated in the 1940s-60s NHL: it was special and revered, and you had to earn it to wear it. Jonathan Toews, who also scored in the 2010 gold medal game, wore No. 9 at the school and so did Parise, then Crosby. But what was different about Parise and Crosby was that not only did they wear the same number at the school, they wore the very same sweater: Parise had it in 200001 and 2001-02; then it was passed to 15-year-old Crosby for 2002-03. Shattuck-St. Mary’s coach Tom Ward was sitting in his living room, watching the 2010 gold medal game, the most heavily-viewed hockey event in history, “and hoping one of our guys would score,” he told me. “Then they score the goal that puts it into overtime and the goal that wins it. And they happen to be the guys who wore exactly the same jersey here.” One of them scored the goal which temporarily broke Canadian hearts from sea to sea to sea, but proved to be necessary to give Canadians the unparalleled elation of their team winning the gold medal on a goal scored by the other in overtime. Without the first, there could not have been the second. It all fit together, and it says here that although he wears No. 87, Crosby is at heart a 9, the all-time Canadian hockey number, the defining number of the Original Six. Veteran Spectator columnist Steve Milton has pretty much seen it all in his 40 years covering sports around the world and, in Being There, he will relive special moments of those stories, from the inside out, every Friday. If there’s a memorable sporting event you want Steve to write about, let him know at email@example.com. Chances are he was there.
Sidney Crosby, then 15, wearing the No. 9 of Shattuck-St. Mary’s School in Faribault, Minnesota during the 2002-03 season, his only one at the prep school.
Canada’s Sidney Crosby celebrates his overtime goal against USA’s Ryan Miller that won the gold medal.