Crosby has seen it rougher

KATHY RUMLESKI -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:29 AM ET

Memo to the London Knights: You may have thought you were tough on wonderkid Sidney Crosby but he has seen rougher.

The Rimouski Oceanic's young star, the best player in major junior hockey, seemed a bit surprised when he was asked yesterday after practice if the Knights, who beat Rimouski 4-3 in overtime in the first game of the Memorial Cup, were the toughest team he has played.

"You mean them hitting us?" he asked. "No, there are others besides (them)." That's 'others' plural, although he wouldn't name them.

Knights defenceman Marc Methot got the wrecking ball aimed at Crosby swinging on Saturday with a booming hit that knocked off Crosby's helmet.

At the end of the first period, Methot nailed Crosby again.

Crosby was clearly frustrated in the second period, kicking at the ice at one point as the Oceanic took seven penalties in the frame while London had four.

The loss was a hard one for the 17-year-old, who led Rimouski to a 35-game unbeaten streak this season.

"It was a tough one to start," Crosby said. Now his team has to play "desperate."

Tonight Rimouski faces the Ottawa 67's, who beat Kelowna 3-2 in double overtime Sunday.

"We're worried about Ottawa," Crosby said. "We're going to make sure we're ready."

Oceanic defenceman Mario Scalzo said seeing Ottawa play on Sunday has helped the team prepare.

"We've seen their system. We're going to use our offence and create some chances."

Crosby, who had 168 points in 62 regular-season games, has been thinking about how he'll score on Ottawa netminder Danny Battochio, who stopped 62 Kelowna shots to set a Memorial Cup record.

"He's someone that just doesn't give up. It's going to take a second effort to beat him," Crosby said. "We're going to make sure we're hungry for pucks, try to get traffic and bang in rebounds."

Crosby hasn't seen a lot of traffic off of the ice.

"I haven't been out and about," he said. "When I'm away from the rink, I just try to relax and hang out with the team at the hotel."

That doesn't mean he's been avoiding the public -- he has signed a few autographs.

"I've had no problem with that," he said. But he's just so focused on playing that he doesn't want to see the sites or take in the atmosphere.

"I'm here to play hockey. For me, my focus is just this."

Whenever he is available to talk, Crosby is swarmed by reporters who only have a few minutes to fire questions at him before he's shuffled away.

Such is the life of Crosby these days.

"I've had people around me that have helped me handle it," he said.


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