Crosby-Richards rivalry inevitable

TERRY KOSHAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:00 AM ET

Participants for Canada at the world junior will tell you the bonds they form with teammates at the annual event will last long after their playing days are done.

But will the bond formed by Sidney Crosby and Mike Richards when they played for Canada in the 2004 and '05 tournaments stand the test of time? It's going to be fun to observe whether it will. Undoubtedly, it will take plenty of resolve on the part of both players to keep it from breaking.

Crosby's Pittsburgh Penguins and Richards' Philadelphia Flyers have formed a rivalry that has become one of the hotter ones in the NHL -- a nasty match between the two clubs this week has fans anticipating more of the same in their five remaining head-to-head clashes this season -- and one can bet Richards will take pride in trying to shut down Crosby in the years to come.

Both have signed with their respective teams for the long term and both, despite their youth, play with a passion that is not met by a majority of their NHL brethren.

Crosby is the mould by which any offensive player will be measured for the foreseeable future, and Richards soon should develop into one of the top two-way players in the game.

Crosby, meanwhile, nearly came to blows with Flyers goalie Martin Biron on Tuesday, but had second thoughts.

"I'd like to (fight Biron), probably. But at the same time, you don't fight a goalie," Crosby said. "Goalies square off with goalies. That's the way it works."

As for Richards' 12-year, $69-million US contract?

"It's a lot of money," Richards said. "The next 12 years of my life, I guess, is going to be fun."

HAWKS HAVE TALONS

If his fellow general managers are going to try to pry some young talent away from him, Chicago Blackhawks general manager Dale Tallon likely would advise them to not bother calling.

The Hawks have appeared in only five playoff games in the past eight years and, as a result of their bad recent history, have had six top-10 picks in that period. Once one gets past Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, other solid prospects include defencemen Niklas Hjalmarsson and Cam Barker and forward Jack Skille.

Chicago has 11 players on its roster who are 25 or younger and seven forwards in the AHL who are 21 or younger.

"(GMs) do their homework," Tallon said. "They know what we have. We're not going to mortgage our future just to get a quick fix."

ICE CHIPS

If Curtis Joseph indeed is named next week to Canada's roster for the Spengler Cup, it's hard to see how a return the NHL won't follow soon after. Rumours that have Joseph linked to the Pens and Ottawa Senators won't go away, and the deplorable goaltending in Tampa Bay has to be getting to coach John Tortorella ... Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov is the last NHL goalie to start all of his team's games this season (30). Going back to 2006-07, Nabokov has started a franchise-record 37 games in a row ... Kane's grandfather, Don Kane, is slated to drop the puck for the ceremonial opening faceoff tonight when the Blackhawks visit Buffalo, Kane's home town, to play the Sabres.


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