'We hit the jackpot'

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:51 AM ET

They were a magnificent sight standing together on the stage at the Westin Hotel yesterday.

Bet on Sidney Crosby and Mario Lemieux looking even better when they hit the ice this fall at Mellon Arena.

"We hit the jackpot with this kid," said Lemieux as he shook hands with former Senators coach Jacques Martin in the hallway during the long, drawn out first round in yesterday's NHL entry draft.

There was no mystery when Pittsburgh Penguins GM Craig Patrick stepped to the microphone yesterday and officially made Crosby the No. 1 pick.

Not only is Lemieux looking forward to playing on a line with the dynamic young star, he also declared there's plenty of room in his house for Crosby if he wants to move in next season.

"It'd be like having another kid," said Lemieux, the Penguins' owner and resident superstar.

This kid is more than just all right. Friday night, Lemieux, Crosby and his agent Pat Brisson shared dinner in Ottawa. They talked a lot about what will be expected from Crosby in Pittsburgh.

If Lemieux has his way, the Rimouski Oceanic centre won't have to do it on his own. He plans to surround Crosby with lots of talent so he doesn't feel like he has to carry the franchise after he signs his first NHL contract in the next four weeks.

"I think I want to be someone who makes things happen offensively," said Crosby. "I definitely have to be a well-rounded player to play in the NHL today. That's something I've got to make sure that I am.

"I'm going to try to learn as much as I can and just be someone who is open-minded and be a student. Hopefully, if I have the opportunity to play in Pittsburgh next year I'm going to learn from one of the best guys in Mario Lemieux. I'll try to be a sponge in that way and learn as much as I can from him."

Crosby's selection created a buzz after Ottawa mayor Bob Chiarelli bored the crowd to tears with bad jokes. But little in the way of excitement followed, as teams are still trying to get a handle on the workings of the new collective bargaining agreement.

There was a small hush when Anaheim GM Brian Burke decided to use the No. 2 pick to select Bobby Ryan from the Owen Sound Attack and the Montreal Canadiens selected Tri-City Americans goalie Carey Price at No. 5.

That, unfortunately, was where the mystery stopped and the draft became mundane with virtually no trades of any significance -- with the exception of the Toronto Maple Leafs acquiring Jeff O'Neill from the Carolina Hurricanes.

That meant all the focus was on Crosby.

"He's a great young player," said Lemieux. "I mean, we've talked about it for many years, that we knew this kid was coming. He's got all the tools to be a great, great player in this league and have a great career.

"He sees the ice very well. He's a great skater. I was talking to him last night and he says he needs to work on his shot a little, but it looks pretty good to me."

bruce.garrioch@ott.sunpub.com


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