When hockey player Guillaume Ouimet stepped out onto fresh outdoor ice during a frigid January morning in Mont-Tremblant, Que., he thought he would be skating alone.
But when the 19-year-old AA team captain looked up, he saw a fellow captain approaching: Sidney Crosby.
“He’s walking to see the outdoor rink and I’m just like all excited,” said Ouimet.
“He asked me a question about the ice and if I was alone, and then I tell him I’m alone and I can see he just wants to skate and not be bothered by a lot of persons.”
With the cold setting in, Ouimet asked if the Pittsburgh Penguins superstar wanted to practise indoors. But Crosby laced up his skates, sitting on the snowbank like a kid, and opted to play outside.
“He’s so good. It’s not even comparable to what you see on TV,” said Ouimet. “I was just so impressed.”
That’s when Crosby, originally from Cole Harbour, N.S., and vacationing in Quebec, joined Ouimet on the ice, and they took turns running drills.
Crosby, first overall pick in the 2005 NHL draft, had some things he wanted to work on — even though his team had the week off in the schedule.
“You really can see why he’s the best player in the world,” said Ouimet. “It’s that attention to detail — always willing to make an effort to get better at things.”
‘He told me he was nostalgic’
Ouimet said the two practised passing and coming out of the left corner for an hour alone on the ice until hockey arena employees noticed the Penguins captain.
“Once the employees got out, Sidney made the effort to speak to them in French for like 10 minutes,” said Ouimet. “I thought that was very kind of him.”
To their delight, Crosby was up for a tour of the indoor arena where Ouimet and his team, the Mont-Tremblant Diables, spend most of their time.
In the team’s locker-room, the multiple Stanley Cup champion sat down on the wooden bench. He didn’t say a word.
“He told me he was nostalgic. He was thinking about all of his memories,” said Ouimet.
While Ouimet knows Crosby is immensely talented and passionate about the game, he said he was inspired by his humility and thoughtful nature.
“It’s how great of a human being he is — just really keeping both feet on the ground, not thinking he’s better than anyone, very generous with his time,” he said.