Crosby takes it in stride

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:53 AM ET

OTTAWA -- When Sidney Crosby's star finally alights today at the NHL draft, the only thing missing will be a manger and three wise men.

The coming of hockey's saviour has been talked about for two years, including 301 days of a crippling work stoppage, while the entire sport was on trial. Just after noon at an Ottawa hotel, the 17-year-old from Cole Harbour, N.S., officially makes the jump from junior phenom to Pittsburgh Penguin, heir to the crown of Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux.

"That's something I'm not going to think about a whole lot," Crosby said yesterday when the top 21 prospects were introduced to the media.

"I realize people are looking for a way to be interested in the game ... to be interested in coming into the season (after) the lockout. I've accepted that. It's a challenge and at the same time I have to realize I have to take things one step at a time."

The last-place Pens, with a new rink and other improved fortunes riding on Crosby, have been in a state of euphoria since winning the draft lottery a week ago.

"Friday night, we were ready to go home and then between 4:29 and 4:30 p.m., our world turned upside down," Penguins' vice-president of communications Tom McMillan said.

"The phones haven't stopped ringing since. We've even had calls from Australia asking about tickets. We've been down on the ice and down in attendance the past few years and now this happens. Incredible."

Crosby is not yet on the same page as Lemieux, but he'll start on the same line in October. He has scored more public relations points than the teenaged Mario, who was reserved, spoke little English and took years to loosen up.

Crosby is an anglophone, but picked up French around the Rimouski Oceanic dressing room and through daily classes, enough to hold his own with the Quebec media.

The new kid is not thinking he will step right into the Pens' lineup and dominate the Philadelphia Flyers as he would in a Rimouski-Drummondville game.

'Everything is going to happen faster (in the NHL)," he said. "Guys are going to be stronger. I realize that. Those are two things I'm going to have to adapt to. I want to try and fit in as soon as I can."

Crosby has had little chance to study his future home city, but a big welcome is planned. He has already knocked the Steelers off of the front page, not an easy feat in late July with NFL training camps about to open.


Videos

Photos