Tue, Jul 29, 2003
Teenage forward Sidney Crosby awed by praise from Wayne Gretzky
By DONNA SPENCER -- Canadian Press
Sidney Crosby was stunned by what Wayne Gretzky said about him.
When the 15-year-old from Cole Harbour, N.S., was told over the phone that Gretzky said Crosby could be the one to break some of his NHL records, there was dead silence, and then:
"Wow. I hadn't heard that," said Crosby. "That's something else. That's pretty special for Wayne Gretzky to say that. I don't think his records will ever be broken. That's a compliment for him to say that for sure."
Gretzky, the man who put together Canada's Olympic gold medal team, must be some kind of evaluator of talent and he told the Arizona Republic in a recent interview that Crosby was the best player he'd seen since Mario Lemieux.
"He's dynamite," said Gretzky.
Crosby had the opportunity to skate on a line with Gretzky during a camp in Los Angeles last summer. Crosby was back in L.A. this week skating and training in preparation for the Canadian under-18 camp, which begins Friday in Calgary.
The buzz has been steadily building over Crosby. He was MVP of the Canadian midget triple-A championship at the age of 14 and had 162 points (72 goals and 90 assists) in 57 games for the St. Mary's prep boys' team last season as a Grade 10 student. A Grade 12 teammate was next closest in points with 116.
He had nine goals and four assists in nine games for Nova Scotia in the Canada Games earlier this year against the top players born in 1986 and 1987.
The five-foot-10, 175-pound forward is one of 40 players invited to the camp. Twenty-two will be chosen to represent Canada at the Junior World Cup in Breclav, Czech Republic, and Piestany, Slovakia, Aug. 11-18.
Crosby is the only player invited born in 1987 -- the rest are '86s -- and he will turn 16 on the day the Canadian team is announced.
"I've been thinking about it all summer," he said. "It goes through your mind every day. Any time you can play for Team Canada, it's unbelievable.
"I'm close, but there's 40 guys who want to do the same thing. It's good to be invited, but the job's not done until you're on the team so I've still got a ways to go."
Crosby decided to go the major junior route this season and was snapped up first overall by the Rimouski Oceanic in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League draft. He is eligible for the NHL entry draft in 2005.
The reports on Crosby say he is a strong skater, hard to knock off the puck, skilful with it and protects it well. He has great vision and shares the puck with his teammates.
The under-18 camp marks the first time Crosby will don a jersey with a Maple Leaf on it and it won't likely be the last.
"I've watched world juniors ever since I knew what was going on in hockey and you see the pride that Canada has, so when you get a chance to represent your country you want to try and do that," he said.
Canada has sent an under-18 team to an international summer tournament in Europe every year since 1997 and has won gold every year.
"No pressure, there," head coach Bob Lowes chuckled, adding: "You try to do the best job you can and not focus on that."
Players from this year's under-18 camp and the team may be available for next April's world championship in Minsk, Belarus, if their respective junior clubs do not make the post-season.
Canada won the gold medal at the world championship in April in Yaroslavl, Russia, with 10 players who had played in the previous summer tournament, the Eight Nations Cup, as well as four more players who had participated in the summer camp.
So this week's camp is important for players who are not named to the summer under-18 team as they could be playing for Canada in Minsk.
One of Lowes' players with the Regina Pats, defenceman Brennan Chapman, participated in the summer camp, did not make the Eight Nations Cup team but helped Canada win gold at the world championship.
"I think the experience he got, even though he didn't play in the Eight Nations Cup in the summer, but from the camp helped him to be a lot better prepared to play in the world championship," said Lowes.
Lowes, Hockey Canada director of scouting Blair Mackasey and assistant coaches Dave Cameron and Pascal Vincent will evaluate the players over the week. Their decision over who makes the team will likely go late into the night on Aug. 6 as they will have to release 18 players at once.
"The biggest thing is the speed, players who can play at a high tempo and be able to think and react at a high tempo," said Lowes. "That's been proven to be what you need in the international game."
Thursday, November 20, 2003
TORONTO (CP) -- Sidney Crosby of the Rimouski Oceanic was named the Canadian Hockey League's player of the week Thursday after he recorded three goals and four assists in two games.
The 16-year-old Halifax native scored two goals, including the winner, and added a pair of assists to help the Oceanic to a 5-3 win over the Shawinigan Cataractes on Nov. 11. He then added a goal and two assists in a 4-2 win over the Chicoutimi Sagueneens on Nov. 16.
Crosby, who was the first overall pick in the QMJHL draft, leads all CHL scorers with 22 goals and 31 assists in 25 games this season.