It was the big media hype everyone expected as Sidney Crosby took to the podium Thursday following the Pittsburgh Penguins pre-game skate. Calgaryflames.com was there and caught up with the Pens' captain in his Q & A with the media:
Q: Talk about your significant, yet brief history with Dion Phaneuf in terms of competition and competing with each other at the World Juniors and so fourth?
A: I think he plays a physical game, but I like to be pretty competitive myself. I played him my first year, I've seen him play since. I don't think his style has changed and that's what he takes pride in.
Q: It's your first trip thru here as a pro, but of course you've been here a few times as a youngster, your thoughts at playing here as a youngster.
A: It's exciting anytime I get to come to a new place and being in Canada as well. I'm familiar with Calgary like you said, and I've had some good memories here, so it's nice. Playing in the Mac's Tournament and playing in the final each time, but I never knew if I would play in this rink, but it's nice that I'm here.
Q: What about Jarome Iginla, who's another captain who is very good at leading his hockey team, what do you admire about the way he plays?
A: I think the biggest thing is he's a complete player. When I see him play, that's the first thing that comes to mind. He does everything, plays in all situations, he's physical, doesn't back down from guys, sticks up for teammates, he's a true leader and I think a lot of guys can learn from that.
Q: Coming into Canada, more specifically Western Canada, are there any expectations going into tonight's game?
A: I don't try to have too many expectations, but I definitely came out here and didn't know a whole lot what to expect, but it's been a lot of attention for sure. But it's exciting at the same time, and I just try and prepare the same way each time.
Q: With the schedule changes, it looks like you might be coming out here more then just once every three years, what are your thoughts on that?
A: It's nice for everyone, the fans, the players. For players it's nice to go into the different cities once in a while. You play your division so many times, so it's a nice change.
Q: Being that you guys don't play Calgary that often, how do you prepare for a game like this?
A: I think you just prepare more so your own game plan more then worry about your own team, especially when you don't play them as much. That's probably the only difference, you worry a little more about you as a team. You play teams eight times you get to know them pretty well, you play this team once every couple years, so all you can do is prepare yourself.
Q: Does this sort of circus ever get taxing to you?
A: Not really. Like I said before, I try not to have too many expectations or anything, that's the best way for me to deal with it. Try to manage things the best way I can. And if anything comes in the way of what I have to do out there, I try not to let that happen, but outside of that I just try and manage the best I can.
Q: Your dad is also here on this trip with you. How is that for you guys to be able to share in this as a family?
A: Yeah it's fun. He's just excited to see some new rinks. This stuff isn't the most exciting for him, but he's just happy to watch some hockey. Like I said in the Mac's (Mac's Midget Hockey Tournament), I wanted to play here in the Saddledome, and I'm sure he wanted to watch a game in the Saddledome, so I'm sure he's happy to finally see me here.
Q: Talk about the expectations on your team this season.
A: It's tough, every team is looking to beat us every night, it's no surprise. We're still young, we made some great strides last year, but the fact is we're only half year more experienced this year. We're still learning a lot and it's a really tough league to win in, and so consistency is coming I think, but there's a lot of night's you play well and you don't win. And I think a lot of teams realize that so all you can do is give yourself the best chance you can at winning every night and I think that for the most part we have tried to do that.
Q: Since the beginning of the season, what's the biggest adjustment you guys have had to make?
A: With my situation, we have a pretty young group I feel comfortable with, we have some great veterans. I really feel I haven't had to adjust much, I don't think I've tried to change a lot to be honest with you, I've just tried to do the same thing and things work the same way.
Q: Talk about Gary Roberts and what he has done for you?
A: He is always there for us and we all know that. If there's any questions, he's obviously there. It's more like story time for us, especially at team meals where we listen to some great stories, so just hearing those experiences I think you learn a lot and he's a great leader for us. The way he is playing for us at his age and the determination he has, I think that's seen by everyone.
Q: Would you say the attention you are getting is more surprising by the fans, the media or both?
A: Probably both. You go on the road you don't expect a welcome like I had last night (in Edmonton) was pretty good. I don't expect that ever, so it's nice to go to a building and have something like that. As far as media, when you play in Toronto or Montreal and places like that, you think it's big, but never really seen this part, so it's been busy but it's been alright.
Q: Talk about the comparisons that have been made between you and Wayne Gretzky.
A: There's always been comparisons, but I try not to change too much and neither can anyone else. It's always a compliment, but for me you don't want to shrug it off but you have to worry about yourself and what you have to do.
Q: Any advice for any of the Gretzky's on how to handle this circus?
A: Not really. I think everyone has their own way of dealing with things. When I first talked to Mario (Lemieux), especially early on when I first got into Pittsburgh, one of things was just to enjoy it and try to be yourself and try not to change too much. I've tried to do that and like I said, everyone has their own way of dealing with it and I think I found my way.
Q: Most of us when we were your age, we had one foot in adolescence and one foot in adult hood, do you ever get a chance to let the kid part of you out?
A: Yeah everyday away from the rink. It's important, you have to have fun. I feel pretty fortunate to be on this team, especially with the young group of guys we have. I remember my first year, I was on a team where I was pretty much the only young guy, it was a lot different. To have young group, we're all pretty fortunate to be growing up together, which is nice.
Q: What about Pittsburgh, can you let loose there and blow off a little steam?
A: It's great there. I really enjoy it there; I think it's the perfect place. I don't think it's any secret why Mario still lives there, I mean, he would tell you too, it's a great place to live, the people are great and it's a comfortable place. I don't think I could have gotten a better place to be.