Friday, July 22, 2005
Super Mario to Groom The Next One!
Two decades after Mario Lemieux's selection as the top pick saved the Pittsburgh Penguins franchise from oblivion, the team will get the chance to draft a player whose skill has been compared to that of Lemieux.
Sidney Crosby is expected to begin his NHL career in Pittsburgh after the Penguins won the NHL Draft Lottery on Friday.
"I'm overjoyed," said a relieved Ken Sawyer, the president and governor of the Penguins.
It's the second time in three years that the Penguins will first overall pick, selecting goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury in 2003. "The thing about Sidney Crosby that blows me away is, at 17 years of age, how he handles pressure," said TSN Hockey analyst Pierre McGuire. "(Pittsburgh) is a great place for Crosby to do some tutorial work in terms of learning from the master, Mario Lemieux.
"Now’s the time for the political people in Pittsburgh to wake up and build a new arena for the next great one, Sidney Crosby."
"(Crosby) needs to carry a franchise before he carries an entire league on his back," added TSN Hockey Analyst Bob McKenzie. "Who better than Mario Lemieux to know what (Crosby) is coming into … but you worry sometimes about the kid. The expectations are unrealistic. He needs to be nurtured."
This year's entry draft, which will be held in Ottawa on July 30, will be drastically scaled back with the proceedings being held at a hotel for the first time since 1979 when defenceman Rob Ramage was selected first overall by the Colorado Rockies at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal.
Under terms of the new collective bargaining agreement, the draft has been cut down to seven rounds from nine. Crosby will be among the top 20 prospects invited to attend the proceedings, which will be completed in one day instead of the usual two.
Crosby's impact is expected to be dramatic and had general managers salivating over the chance to draft him.
"Nothing's done yet, but I'd be more than happy to play (in Pittsburgh)," said Crosby in an interview with TSN immediately following the draft.
The Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers, who had the best chance among Canadian based teams of winning the first overall pick, finished in the bottom half of the draw. Calgary will draft 26th while Edmonton will draft 25th.
The Toronto Maple Leafs will have the 21st pick overall.
The Vancouver Canucks landed the 10th overall pick while the Ottawa Senators will pick ninth.
The Montreal Canadiens, who had one chance in 48 of winning the top pick, ended up with the fifth pick overall.
The actual drawing of the lottery was done behind closed doors "in a secure location," according to deputy commissioner Bill Daly - before the televised unveiling.
Forty-eight balls were put in a clear container and then drawn. Columbus, Buffalo, Pittsburgh and New York had the best chances to win, as each of those teams had the maximum three balls, or a 6.25 per cent chance.
Anaheim, Atlanta, Calgary, Carolina, Chicago, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Nashville and Phoenix each had two balls.
The remaining 16 teams had one ball each and a 2.08 per cent chance.
The league came up with the revamped lottery because the lockout had wiped out the season so there was no order of finish around which to base the draft. Usually the lottery only allows the bottom five teams a crack at the first pick.
"This is a unique circumstance," Bettman said prior to the lottery.
"Nobody was particularly thrilled, but everyone understood that on balance it was probably the fairest way to approach it," he added.
There hasn't been this much fanfare around an NHL prospect since Eric Lindros was drafted in 1991.
Unlike Lindros, however, Crosby is expected to play for the Penguins.
Crosby's arrival in the NHL coincides with several important rule changes aimed at opening up the game offensively and increasing scoring.
-referenced from www.tsn.ca