It was 17 years ago that Sidney Crosby walked across the NHL Draft stage in Ottawa to put on the Pittsburgh Penguins jersey for the first time. There is no disputing the impact Crosby has had on the Pittsburgh community since that day.
After just three years with the Penguins, Crosby created the Penguins Learn to Play Program that encourages families to join the sport of hockey before the 2008-09 season. The program offers head-to-toe equipment for first time participants in addition to at least eight weeks of on-ice training.
West Mifflin native Logan Cooley was an inaugural member of the program back in 2008. Taken third overall by the Arizona Coyotes, Cooley became the highest drafted Pennsylvania-born player in the history of the NHL. That title previously belonged to RJ Umberger, who was selected 16th in the 2001 draft by the Vancouver Canucks.
Earlier on the draft day, former Penguin Tyler Kennedy spoke on 93.7 The Fan about the 18-year-old prospect. Kennedy, a member of the Penguin's 2009 Stanley Cup Championship team, shared a text conversation that he had with Crosby before the draft.
"You know he (Cooley) started at my program," Crosby texted. "which is so cool." Kennedy continued, "Sid was so proud that he gave a kid gear to start playing hockey, and now he's getting drafted to the NHL."
Kennedy has spent his post-playing career helping youth hockey players in Pittsburgh with his Tyler Kennedy Training program.
Cooley is committed to playing for the University of Minnesota next season after competing for two seasons in the U.S. National Team Development Program. Meanwhile, Crosby's impact on the Pittsburgh community continues to grow.
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