CALGARY ó As much as Aaron Johnson didnít want Sidney Crosby to be a star last night, itís not hard to see the Calgary Flames defenceman speaks with a lot of Nova Scotia pride about Sid the Kid.
Johnson, who hails from Port Hawksbury, N.S., knows how big Crosby is in his hometown of Cole Harbour and the rest of the Atlantic province.
ďHeís a bid deal everywhere now, but heís been a big deal in Nova Scotia since he was 14 (when) he was touted as one of the best in the business ó going to be the next Wayne Gretzky ó and had that pressure his whole career. So I guess we got to see it before anyone else,Ē Johnson said of the Pittsburgh Penguins captain who faced his team Wednesday night at the Saddledome.
ďHeís an ambassador and done a lot for the province. Now with the Olympics, itís awesome to have someone from out east and come from a small province you donít hear too much from.Ē
Johnson is four years older than Crosby, but they have crossed paths on several occasions over the years and have a bond from both their hometowns and the junior team the played for.
Port Hawksbury is on the southern tip of Cape Breton Island, while Cole Harbour is outside of Halifax, about 275 km away, so itís not like they grew up near each other, but being from Nova Scotia creates an instant friendship.
Johnson first met Crosby at the 2000 Memorial Cup in Halifax when he was a 16-year-old defenceman on the Rimouski Oceanic and the future star was a pre-teen phenom who was introduced to the players.
Crosby joined the Oceanic for the 2003-04 season, which came after Johnsonís final year with the Quebec team.
ďIíve seen him throughout the years and we say hi to each other, but I donít really know him beyond that,Ē Johnson admitted. ďIím sure eventually weíll get to sit down and get to know each other better.Ē
Then again, Johnson has known about Crosby seemingly forever now, having heard stories about him for a decade.
ďThey were selling out rinks everywhere he went, even in minor hockey. When Sidney was there, they would come to watch this guy,Ē he said.
ďIt was pretty amazing. You hear about one or two kids who are going to do exceptionally well, but Sidney has been in his own category.Ē