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Crosby answers the call from Yzerman, Canada

Wednesday, 12.30.2009 / 3:13 PM / All-Access Vancouver

By Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

NEWARK, N.J. -- No one can question Sidney Crosby's focus and dedication to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

When his cell phone rang Wednesday morning, he let it go to voice mail because he was in a team meeting to set up Wednesday's game against the New Jersey Devils.

The message was from Team Canada Executive Director Steve Yzerman informing Crosby he had made the nation's Olympic team.

No big deal, right? Crosby is pretty important, so Yzerman called back to talk to him in person.

"That's someone I grew up watching a lot, was a role model for me," Crosby said. "To receive the call from him was pretty special."

Crosby said it wasn't a long conversation, but clearly one of the best he's ever gotten.

"It's great," he said. "From here on in it's going to be a pretty popular subject, not that it hasn't been already. Being able to put faces and names on the team, everyone is getting more and more excited for it. This is the next step in that process. It's going to be pretty neat to see the amount of talent and skill players that are going to be part of that group."

Certainly Crosby is at the top of group. The Penguins' captain is tied for fourth in the League with 23 goals and is fifth with 48 points.

"This is very special," Crosby said. "I remember watching in Salt Lake City (in 2002), really wanting to be part of the Olympics. It's more than just hockey. You're taking about celebration of sports throughout the world, and you're talking about representing Canada as a hockey player, a sport that's so important in Canada, having it in Canada. I feel pretty lucky to have that opportunity."

Crosby was named an alternate captain, along with the Flyers' Chris Pronger and the Flames' Jarome Iginla. The Ducks' Scott Niedermayer was named captain.

Prior to the captaincy announcement, Crosby said he didn't think he could or should have the "C," but some players on the team believe Crosby and some of the other younger players selected to the team are ready to take a big piece of the leadership pie.

"Sidney Crosby, he's been like the top player since he got drafted," said Devils goalie Martin Brodeur. "He's won a Stanley Cup now. This is a step for him to really establish himself. … He's been in the spotlight all his life. I think this is just one more thing. It's something that's going to be good for him and good for everybody from our country for him to be one of the top players for Canada."

Crosby knows that burden, because he's borne it since before he entered the NHL. And despite the pressure of trying to win Olympic gold in Canada, Crosby said it's just another thing for him.

"It's an exciting time and certainly there's pressure," he said, "but it's something whether it be playing for Team Canada or any other team, I've dealt with that. That's what you deal with in those situations. That's why you love to play the game. Those are the challenges you look forward to. There's no doubt people have high expectations in Canada, but it's always been that way. That's what we've gotten used to and that's because people care. That's not a terrible thing. As a player you get used to that but you enjoy it. You do your best to meet those expectations."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com