World junior gold 'seems just like yesterday'

KEN WIEBE -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 9:39 AM ET

PITTSBURGH -- With the whirlwind life he's been living during the past 12 months, it can occasionally be tough for Sidney Crosby to keep up with some of the finer details.

But that's not the case when the topic turns to describing the experience of winning a gold medal at the 2005 World Junior Hockey Championship.

"We had such a great time, it puts a smile on your face every time you think about it," Crosby told the Sun yesterday, recalling the incredible ride that included a 6-0 record and a dominant gold-medal victory over Russia to give Canada its first title since 1997.

"Yeah, it's gone by pretty fast -- it seems like only yesterday we were celebrating in North Dakota. It was a great experience and I'll have great memories of that for the rest of my life."

Since mining gold, Crosby has been piling up the memories with the same frequency he's been racking up points during his rookie season in the National Hockey League.

There was a Quebec Major Junior Hockey League title and subsequent Memorial Cup performance with the Rimouski Oceanic.

After losing out to the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League, Crosby found out the Pittsburgh Penguins had won the lottery and that he'd begin his professional career on the same team as Mario Lemieux.

Following his first overall selection in the NHL entry draft, Crosby accepted Lemieux's offer to live in his home, something that's made the transition to the pro game much easier.

"It's been great for me," said Crosby. "At the rink it's always fun but you need some time away from it to clear your mind. To be in that household and in that environment with the kids and that family atmosphere, there are no worries about meals or anything like that. I can just worry about playing hockey and enjoying it. And to be around Mario, there's no one better to learn from."

Crosby has made the transition look easy, but he concedes there are things to work on. Among them is a goal of being more consistent.

There are no consistency issues when it comes to dealing with the daily demands of both the media and the organization.

"He's been great, on the ice and off," said Penguins general manager Craig Patrick. "There definitely were high expectations, especially in Canada and he's handled it really, really well.

"Now that he's here, I'm really impressed with how down-to-earth he is. It's hard to imagine what he's able to deal with at that age and deal with it at a tremendous level. He seems to say the right things and do the right things all the time."


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