July 30, 2005

Penguins Make Phenom Crosby No. 1 Pick

OTTAWA - Welcome to the NHL, Sidney Crosby. As expected, the Pittsburgh Penguins used the first overall pick in the 2005 NHL entry draft to take the 17-year-old phenom from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia.

"This is amazing," Crosby said. "I'm just really relieved. It's unbelievable. I'm so happy right now."

For the NHL, the arrival of a young superstar is just what the league needed after the lockout erased the 2004-05 season. For Crosby, the waiting is finally over.

Crosby, who turns 18 on Aug. 7, is a 5-foot-10, 193-pound forward with surprising strength and masterful vision on the ice. A prolific scorer, Crosby won nearly every trophy up for grabs the last two seasons in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

He had 66 goals and 102 assists in 62 games, after a rookie campaign that featured 54 goals and 81 assists in 59 games, and was the Canadian major junior player of the year both seasons.

"He creates a lot of excitement," Crosby's boss and possible linemate Mario Lemieux said. "He has all the tools to be a great player. He sees the ice well, he's a great skater. He says he needs to work on his shot, but it looks pretty good to me."

The young star will share center stage in Pittsburgh with Lemieux, the first overall pick himself in 1984, and is expected to help rescue the struggling franchise.

"I'm not really thinking about it right now," Crosby said. "I want to come and play in the NHL next year. That's my goal, that's my focus right now. I'm going to put everything into that and try to move on from there."

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