SUN Hockey Pool

Hurry up and wait

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 12:21 PM ET

Can't wait to watch Sidney Crosby playing with Mario Lemieux? You'll wait. You'll wait three years.

The two biggest losers of the Sidney Sweepstakes were the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames.

Not only were they the first two ball teams out of yesterday's entry draft lottery in 25th and 26th place respectively, Sid the Kid is only going to play in the Heartland of Hockey and its southern extremity once every three years. Not next year. Not the year after. Not until 2007-08. Then not again until 2010-11.

The new "rivalry-based schedule'' features five home games against one specific division of the other conference once every three years - making the assumption he isn't injured at the time of either of those visits.

The Oilers do play in Pittsburgh this season. At this point, however, it is not known if that game will even be televised.

While it could have been worse it could have been Carolina, a franchise which was around until leaving with the third pick it's difficult to suggest this is going to be good for Crosby or for hockey.

The Penguins, I predict, will not only have Crosby but also draw from the new revenue sharing set-up while they have him.

And all that talk about Crosby's pick bringing a new building to Pittsburgh. Mario Lemieux couldn't inspire the building of a new arena in Pittsburgh either as an player or an owner, so don't expect 'The House That Sid Built' to come out of this.

While Crosby showed Wayne Gretzky-like class throughout this, it's hard to be excited for him or for hockey. The reality of this highly hyped exciting day in hockey history is that 29 cities and one league end up largely depressed.

THERE WAS NO JOY

And while the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, unanimously ratified by the owners as expected yesterday, and the new rules, officially revealed as well, ought to leave the Oilers jumping for joy, there was no joy.

Whoever the Oilers draft in 25th won't be playing here before you get to first lay eyes on Crosby live, if ever.

But them's the breaks. It's hard to criticize luck. Kevin Lowe wasn't lucky. So now he has to be good.

If Lowe delivers a Scott Neidermayer or a Peter Forsberg as a free agent, then his lack of horseshoes on the one day in hockey history when you sure could have used them will be temporarily irrelevant.

Gary Bettman said all the right things in his relaunch of the league.

"We will return the game to our fans with a promise,'' he said. "We will do everything in our power to be the best we can be ... This was a terrible time for everyone associated with the game. We will do everything we can to make it up to you.

"It's time our fans had some fun again and our objective is to give them all they can handle.''

There was no surprise with the new rules from the new competition committee. That, it says here, was both good and bad.

- Playoff format to stay at 16 teams instead of 20. Good.

- Size of the nets won't get bigger. Good.

- They'll still play 82 games. Bad.

- The ice will not be widened. Bad.

- Goaltender equipment made smaller. Good.

- Modified no-touch icing. Good.

- Goal-line moved back two feet toward the boards. Good.

- Removal of the red line. Good.

- Shootout in overtime. Good.

- But with only three shooters. Bad.

- Staying with two points for a win and a "loser point'' for overtime or shootout losses instead of three points for a win and one for a tie with no loser points. Bad.

MORE ENTERTAINING

On balance, the game should be more entertaining and exciting, especially if they deliver the always promised and never delivered this-time-we're-serious crackdown on clutching and grabbing and other obstruction penalties.

But we knew almost all of the above before yesterday.

What the hockey world dialed in to watch was where Sidney Crosby would go.

- Pittsburgh. Bad.


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