Phenom thrilled to appear on HNIC

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 12:38 PM ET

PITTSBURGH -- After all those Saturday nights watching Hockey Night in Canada, Sidney Crosby was finally on the other side.

The teenage Penguins phenom made his small screen debut in the national tradition last night, seen by all those wide-eyed youngsters from his hometown.

"Showing it in Nova Scotia, it's pretty nice," Crosby said after yesterday's morning skate.

"It's exciting. Myself, like a lot of Canadian kids growing up, every Saturday watched hockey, so to be a part of it is special."

Last night's clash wasn't shown coast-to-coast -- the Maple Leafs, of course, took centre stage in most of the country -- but was aired in Calgary, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia.

It was the first time Crosby has headlined the CBC games.

All those tuning in also witnessed the showdown between Crosby and Flames first-year defenceman Dion Phaneuf.

Even Penguins star, captain and CEO Mario Lemieux admitted before the game being intrigued who the clash of the young stars would play out.

"They're two young guys with a lot of skills, a lot of speed and are playing the game pretty well," Lemieux said. "It should be exciting for the fans to watch these guys."

Crosby and Phaneuf were on the other side of the fence last night but have a history together. They were teammates with Canada's gold-medal winning World Junior squad last winter.

"You share that experience, and with him it was two years, two fun years," Crosby said. "When you win together, it's something you share with 20, 22 guys and there's a lot of respect that comes with that."

A lot of knowledge, too, meaning Crosby went into the game knowing what Phaneuf brings to the table, especially in the physical department.

"That competition level has always been high between me and him," Crosby stated. "We played together and were always trying to improve ourselves on the ice and sometimes that meant for good battles."


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