Mem Cup intrigues Crosby

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:10 AM ET

He has a world junior championship gold medal, a hefty contract with Reebok and the label as the next big thing in hockey.

But there's one goal that drives Sidney Crosby, who won't be 18 until August, in the final few months of the 2004-05 season: A trip to the Memorial Cup in London in May.

"Really bad," Crosby said when asked how much he would want to compete for junior hockey's Stanley Cup. "But it's a marathon. It's a lot easier to say you want to be there now. It's a long road."

Crosby's Rimouski Oceanic has been on fire in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. A 23-game unbeaten streak has propelled the Oceanic into first place in the league with less than two weeks left in the regular season. Hockey fans who have suffered with the absence of the NHL this season would be in for a major treat if Crosby were to compete with the record-breaking London Knights at the Memorial Cup.

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

However, if the Oceanic is upset in the early rounds of the playoffs, the world championship in Austria could be another option for Crosby. Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson has said Crosby will be considered if Rimouski is done.

"I want to go as far as possible with my junior team," Crosby said. "If I were available I would want to play for Team Canada whenever I get a chance. To play for the senior men's world championship team would be amazing but that's not my focus right now."

Depending on where Crosby is playing next season, his agent, Pat Brisson, said the Olympics and the world junior next winter in Vancouver are viable options.

Crosby, who was flown by private jet to Toronto from Rimouski yesterday for his news conference with Reebok, said his confidence grew after the world junior in Grand Forks, N.D.

"Individually, it helped a lot," said Crosby, who also indicated the Oceanic's acquisition of defenceman Mario Scalzo was big. "The best way to learn how to win is to win. I had a great experience being around guys who are winners and I think it rubbed off on me."

Despite his new riches with Reebok, Crosby, who has 145 points in 57 games, seems to be the same level-headed kid who burst onto the junior scene 18 months ago.

"This is not going to change me as a person or as a player," Crosby said.


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