Mentor duties familiar to coach

SCOTT FISHER -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 12:33 PM ET

Marc Habscheid knows how Sidney Crosby feels.

Perhaps not what it feels like to be a Calder Trophy contender but his living arrangements were somewhat similar during his rookie season.

Following a 64-goal, 151-point season with the WHL's Saskatoon Blades, Habscheid joined the Edmonton Oilers.

And much like Mario Lemieux has taken Crosby under his wing, Habscheid had a pretty good mentor, too.

Wayne Gretzky, who wasn't that old himself, made sure his newest teammate was looked after.

"I was living in hotels, so he got me out of there and I stayed with him," Habscheid says. "It was good to get out of the hotels and he was kind enough to take me in.

"There was no doubt he was a great player. But what was even greater about him was the quality a person that he was and is. He was such a great player but he was all about the team and tried to help everybody out."

Habscheid, who scored a goal in yesterday's final for the victorious Team (Al) Coates, played for four NHL clubs during his career. He was only out of the game for one season before jumping behind the bench of the WHL's Kamloops Blazers.

After guiding the Kelowna Rockets to a Memorial Cup title in 2004, Habscheid elected to take on head coaching duties with Team Canada. The constant player turnover has proven to be trying at times.

"A lot of times, we'll be together for about a week," he says. "You get new rosters all the time. It's a good experience for me as a coach because I have to know what's too much and what's not enough.

"When I played back in '86, we had a full-time team. But everything evolves and the game changes.

"It's too bad because I have a lot of fond memories when we had a full-time team."

Habscheid, who played for the Flames in 1991-92, is fresh off a silver-medal performance at the Spengler Cup. He says he enjoys coaching players at various levels.

"It forces you to take into consideration the different levels of players.

"The players we get are usually very good players. A lot of them have played in the NHL before and they're just winding up their careers (in Europe). And they love playing for Canada, which always makes it a lot easier for the coach."


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