Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Hockey news and notes, May 18

On the cusp of the Memorial Cup in London, Ont., The Globe and Mail's Tim Wharnsby reports five distinct options that Sidney Crosby will have should NHL play not resume in September:
He would receive offers to play in Switzerland, Sweden and Russia and possibly for the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League. The native of Cole Harbour, N.S., also has an open invitation to join the Canadian national team program for the Olympics.

Crosby would make more money playing in Europe or for the Wolves, but Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson believes that playing for the national team would be better for Crosby's development.
Hockey Canada is scheduled to have a non-NHLer camp to prepare for the 2006 Olympics in Turin, and it's possible that the lure of competing for Canada (again) may put Crosby at that camp. Considering the 17-year-old superstar has super agent Pat Brisson working on his side, I find it hard to believe he won't instead opt for the cash. Not that I blame him.

As for the Memorial Cup: After posting an impressive 14 goals and 31 points in 13 playoff games, Crosby is going to have all he can handle against the likes of the Kelowna Rockets and London Knights (whom Crosby's Oceanic meet with this Saturday).

If anyone these days is wishing there had been an NHL season, it's likely this media shell-shocked young lad who can't seem to dart the headlines more than momentarily. Should he falter slightly during the Memorial Cup —— a distinct possibility in such a short tournament against such high calibre defensive clubs —— expect the 'not-so-great' epithets to be hurled ad infinitum.

The one (small) thing Crosby doesn't have going for him that the last Great Hype —— i.e. Lindros —— had, is a tremendous physical presence. Will going up against the likes of Rockets' behemoth (and Crosby Team Canada teammate) Shea Weber throw him off his game? I'd be lying if I said I knew, but it's certainly not outside the realm of possibility.

What I do know is that I'm looking forward to this tournament more than any since 1995 when the Kamloops Blazers won on home turf in much the same fashion as the Knights are attempting 10 years later. The difference? That Blazers team had been there before. And the only team that can say that this time around is Kelowna, the winners of last year's tournament and finalists in 2003.

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