A Season with Sidney Crosby and the New NHL. A gripping account of the rookie season of the NHL’s next great saviour.
When Sidney Crosby was first drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins, we knew he was bright, photogenic, personable, and a media darling. The only question that remained was whether he could handle the big time. From an international advertising deal with Reebok to a season of personal triumphs and gut-wrenching challenges — with a little argument from Don Cherry along the way — Sid the Kid has proven that he is the man.
In the tradition of A Season on the Brink and Peter Gzowski’s The Game of Our Lives, Shawna Richer has had the exclusive assignment of chronicling Sidney Crosby’s incredible rookie season. Beginning with the NHL entry draft that almost never was, Richer follows Crosby to Pittsburgh, where he is greeted as the team’s saviour and moves in with living legend Mario Lemieux. Just eighteen, the league’s youngest player makes the leap to the NHL look easy and is named its best rookie in his first month, while performing under great expectations and intense scrutiny. He quickly becomes his team’s leading scorer and best player; there are triumphant openings in New York, Toronto, and Montreal. But like Gretzky and Lemieux, the young superstars who came before him, his first NHL season provides immense challenges. The Penguins struggle to win games and fire their coach early on, all with the threat that the team may be sold and leave Pittsburgh hanging over their heads. Through it all, Crosby rises to each challenge. His story is destined to become a classic.
With less than a minute left to play, and the game appearing to be headed to a shootout, Crosby vaulted over the bench for his final shift. At the same time, across the rink in the corner near the Penguins net, Ryan Malone pulled the puck onto his stick. The rangy sophomore forward looked around for an open man nearby, but then he spied Crosby near centre ice, just starting to head across the zone. The rookie was wide open and all alone. Malone fired a long lead pass to his teammate straight up the middle of the rink.
Just over the centre line, Crosby pulled the puck in and charged into the Flyers zone, all the anger from earlier contained entirely on the blade of his stick. The only thing between him and Niittymaki was less than ninety feet of well-worn ice. The Finnish goaltender shimmied out of his crease in an attempt to cut down the view of the net, but Crosby was churning so hard and so fast he quickly backed up. Sidney spotted an opening on Niittymaki’s stick side, and in an instant, he shot and scored.
He raised his arms and shouted. He circled back toward centre ice, all broken teeth and fat lip and unbridled rage and joy and sweet revenge in one package. The crowd roared its displeasure.
–From The Rookie
|Publisher:||McClelland & Stewart Ltd.|
|Product dimensions:||6.41(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.15(d)|
About the Author
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It was a great day for hockey.
The National Hockey League entry draft held July 30, 2005, on a warm summer afternoon in downtown Ottawa was the most celebrated and signiﬁcant selection day held in several decades. At the same time it was entirely anti-climactic.
Hastily arranged after the nhl owners and players reached a deal to end an acrimonious 310-day lockout that forced cancellation of the 2004-2005 season, the draft starred the most desirable young hockey player to come along since Mario Lemieux had arrived on the scene in 1984. A teenaged boy from a small village on the eastern shore of Nova Scotia was a lock to be the number one pick.
His name was Sidney Crosby. He had tousled dark hair and an abundant cowlick, bee-stung lips, a generous, toothy grin, and in most lights he resembled exactly what he was — a boy still sixteen days shy of his eighteenth birthday. For someone who had not yet played a single shift of professional hockey, he was already remarkably famous.
Several seasons before the ugly labour dispute shut down Canada’s beloved pastime, the 2005 nhl draft became billed as the Sidney Crosby Sweepstakes. For years, his childhood scoring prowess had been widely known throughout the Maritimes. He was thrust into the national spotlight at the age of fourteen after a remarkable mvp performance in what was then called the Air Canada Cup, the country’s championship tournament for midget-aged players, in April 2002. Crosby went on to set records in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with the Rimouski Oceanic — his 135 points as a sixteen-year-old was the most by a player that age in the Quebec league’s history and second in Canadian Hockey League history, behind only Wayne Gretzky’s 182 points with Sault Ste. Marie in 1977-1978. In what had become the most often repeated tale of his young life so far, Crosby’s reputation was bolstered even further when Gretzky himself told a sportswriter with the Arizona Republic that the Canadian youngster was the only player he had ever seen who had a shot at breaking his own numerous nhl scoring records.
The draft order had been set a week earlier, but even before that Crosby had eagerly promised to don the sweater of whichever team selected him. That he would play in the nhl was a highly anticipated certainty, one of the few things about the league’s return to action that autumn that was predictable. This draft, even more than the ratiﬁcation of the collective bargaining agreement by the National Hockey League Players’ Association and its subsequent unanimous acceptance by the league’s thirty owners, marked the return of hockey and the birth of the nhl’s renaissance. Sidney’s arrival in the nhl didn’t just coincide with hockey’s homecoming, it more or less launched it.
The league was desperately in need of a saviour, a gifted, gracious poster boy who could help repair the widespread damage caused by the previous season’s strike and the ﬂood of negative publicity that ensued. Crosby had already been christened the Next One, just as several other players, chieﬂy Eric Lindros and Joe Thornton, had been at one time. But already Crosby seemed different from those who had come before.