Commentary, opinion and news on the world of hockey.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Crosby breaking out


Sidney Crosby is off to a fabulous start at this year's World Junior Hockey Championships in North Dakota. Crosby may be the most hyped junior player since Eric Lindros, and this tournament was described by the pundits as his platform to showcase his world class ability. Well, so far so good. He added two power-play goals against Sweden today to bring his tournament total goal tally to 4.

Given that the competition has been somewhat less than, well, competitive, it remains to be seen if Crosby really is the second coming of Gretzky. That said, the pure skill he possesses is blatantly obvious to most who have had the pleasure of watching him play. He has been nothing less than instrumental in both of Team Canada's 2 convincing wins. In fact,the top line that consists of Patrice Bergeron, Corey Perry and Crosby, has combined for 7 goals and 15 points thus far.

So, will Crosby make his NHL debut if the NHL uses replacement players? Well, if you would have asked him yesterday, he would have said:
"I haven't really given it a lot of thought but my dream is to play in the NHL. I think if I do have the opportunity, I would probably go."

Much was made of that comment because of the current labor unrest in the NHL. And because most speculate that the League may seek to employ replacement players, Crosby's statement has been construed as an admittance that he would play if it ever came to that.

However, after today's game agains the Swede's, he was tooting a different horn:
"If there is an NHL with replacement players, I think for me to be involved and to say that I would play in the league is not true. If the NHL is the real NHL with the best players in the world, for sure I want to play in it but at the same time, if it's a league of replacement players, it's not the real NHL. And with all the things going on right now with players and owners, it's not right and I don't think I'd be playing in a league like that."

Regardless of when he sets foot on an NHL ice rink, the hype will be there to accompany him. There's no doubting his talent; he's got the gift. He will undoubtedly be a star player, but the real question is, can he elevate himself to one of the best of all time? Only time will tell, and I for one, will enjoy the ride.

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