It's Crosby and everybody else

ERIN NICKS -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 11:08 AM ET

What would have happened if Sidney Crosby had never been available in the 2005-06 NHL draft? What if he never existed?

The NHL would suffer from lacking one shining star to hitch its incredibly broken wagon to. Pittsburgh would flounder, or collapse altogether. And hockey-loving children everywhere would lack a role model with the potential to live up to the Wayne Gretzky hype of yore.

You have to wonder if all of the fan-friendly, media-soaked insanity surrounding the draft would've taken place if the Crosby factor were non-existent. Would the events be scaled down? Probably. Would they even take place at all? Who knows?

Take, for example, the top prospects clinic at the Sensplex yesterday. Crosby was present ... and there were four other guys with him. Those "other guys" were Gilbert Brule, Jack Johnson, Benoit Pouliot and Bobby Ryan -- and had they not been sporting their respective junior sweaters, who can guess how many of the fans would have known their full names?

The media were also present and their insatiable hunger for the young phenom is fascinating to observe. Crosby was a Pied Piper on skates, as the cameras followed his every move. Meanwhile the local youngsters at the clinic, particularly the girls, were putting on a fantastic show. But who wants to pay attention to that? Sidney just lowered his head to a 25-degree angle -- break out a new roll of film.

The scene was the same at Majors Hill Park. Twenty of the top prospects were introduced to the crowd. How many people would have shown up if there had been no Sidney to cheer? Ask anyone present the reason why they came, and the answer was always the same: Crosby. After the player introductions, Sid the Kid was mobbed, rock-star style.

WAIT YOUR TURN: Crosby's new responsibilities may seem like a redundant issue, but after these two days of hysteria conclude, they will become more relevant than ever. The 20 top prospects' information is contained in one media package. Crosby has a separate media package -- which is the same size, if not bigger. During a media availability session featuring the upcoming rookies, Crosby was brought in first to field questions while standing in front of a podium. It was only after he had concluded and left the room when the rest of the players were shuttled in.

"WHERE'S SIDNEY": No one can blame Crosby for all of the attention being focused on him -- he shouldn't deny his talent and he didn't ask for this to happen. But being put in the same draft grouping as a major superstar is surely difficult to bear. Ask the other 29 prospects what it's like to have a kid hold up a Crosby poster to be signed while asking, "Where's Sidney?" Ouch.

Best question yet to be asked of Crosby this weekend: "Do you lock your luggage?"

erinnicks@yahoo.ca


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