Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby (87) returns to the bench after getting his 999th career point in the NHL, on a goal by Jake Guentzel during the third period of the team's NHL hockey game against the Vancouver Canucks in Pittsburgh, Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017. The Penguins won 4-0.
©AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar
His former player was expected to cross an elite threshold in the world of professional hockey, but it was no surprise to Sidney Crosby’s childhood coach.
“We knew he was pretty special when he was younger,” Paul Mason said in an interview before Thursday night’s game against the Winnipeg Jets where No. 87 became the 86th player in NHL history to score 1,000 points or more.
“When he kept overcoming those obstacles every time, and always going beyond what people thought he would do … I guess nothing surprises us. We’re just so proud of him and the way he represents our community so well … It’s just a sense of pride.”
Not the least of those obstacles has been Crosby’s health. Just a few years ago, his future in the league was uncertain, dogged by concussion problems. Mason said the Cole Harbour community was worried back then, but always optimistic that the hometown boy would pull through.
“In life, everyone gets those moments that make you wonder, and that might have been one of those moments for him,” he said.
Crosby told the Associated Press a few weeks ago that back then, he didn’t know what his future held.
"A lot of things go through your head as far as playing again, getting to the level you think you can get to," he said. "A lot of sitting time around kind of waiting. It's hard for that to not kind of cross your mind."
Now Crosby’s joining a list with the game’s greats. He’ll be the eighth active NHLer to join the club, the third Nova Scotian, and the first from the Halifax area.
Mason said he doesn’t worry too much about milestones like this one because he doesn’t think Crosby does either.
“Individual accolades and accomplishments are nice, but we like to see Sidney do well, and I think doing well for him is his team getting a chance to win the Cup,” he said.
“He’s already established himself as one of the greatest of all time … Finding him on that list isn’t a shocker. He’s on everyone’s list in the top 100.”