Crosby no stranger in town

RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:10 AM ET

When the Pittsburgh Penguins arrived early yesterday morning, the time was around 1:30 a.m.

Bleary-eyed but excited about their come-from-behind 4-2 win in Edmonton, the players shuttled from the chartered aircraft to the team bus.

But Sidney Crosby made a detour.

At the fence outside the tarmac were a trio of fans, holding signs that welcomed the young star to Calgary. Crosby walked to them, signed a few autographs and chatted for several minutes.

Sure, it wasn't like the reception Sid the Kid received lining up against the Edmonton Oilers in Rexall Place a few hours earlier, but it was appreciated.

"That's a little surprising," Crosby said after yesterday's morning skate. "You wouldn't see that too many places, I don't think."

Yesterday's game against the Flames was the first in Calgary as a pro -- seeing as it's his third season, it's a travesty we can blame on the ridiculous NHL schedule, but that's a discussion for another time -- but it was also a welcome back for the reigning league MVP.

Crosby has hit the ice in the Stampede City on several occasions. He was a star at a pair of Mac's Midget triple A tournaments -- the first year as a 14-year-old -- and skated in a summer camp prior to the world juniors.

Last night's clash with the Flames was special, though, for the 20-year-old since it was his first at the Saddledome, an opportunity he was crushed to not get when he skated with the vaunted Shattuck-St. Mary's team at the 2002 Mac's tourney.

"I have some good memories here," Crosby said.

And one, he admitted, a day before disappointed him.

"I was playing with Shattuck and they had won three years in a row, and going in we were kind of always the team that was supposed to win," he said. "We lost to Sweden in the (quarter-final) and we had 50 shots and they had 10 (actually it was 44-27) and still lost, but it was huge thing to have a chance to play there (at the 'Dome).

"To not play there was disappointing.

"Hopefully playing there now will make up for it. I never knew if I was gonna play in this rink, so it's nice to be finally here."

As for other memories of the Stampede City, Crosby really doesn't have any, at least none he relayed.

"The world juniors was going on, so I remember being glued to the TV when I wasn't playing my games," he said. "There was a lot of buzz around our team because Shattuck had done so well in previous tournaments, so the rinks were always full."

Not quite the buzz surrounding last night's game.

Nor the attention, but Crosby, whose ability to handle the demands of his time from the media is almost as impressive as his ability to play the game, insists it's not too taxing.

"It's exciting any time you get to come to a new place, and being in Canada, as well," he said.

"I try not to have too many expectations of everything -- that's the best way for me to deal with it. If anything ever gets in the way with what I have to do out there, I try not to let that happen.

"With this atmosphere, it's Canada. You can't beat that."

In fact, it got to the point where the Flames were almost a forgotten team as the circus surrounded Sid the Kid.

"We're not insulted by it at all," Flames head coach Mike Keenan said.

"It heightens the level of scrutiny and it heightens the level of interest for the game.

"I think our players enjoy something like that. It's better maybe for the opposing teams than Pittsburgh, they might get tired of it.

"There's nothing but good that can come out of this kind of exposure by the Penguins."


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