Connor Bedard chatting with Sidney Crosby at PMT

HENDERSON, Nev. -- Connor Bedard had a chance to mingle with some of the League’s superstars during the NHL North American Player Media Tour on Tuesday.

But without a doubt, the biggest highlight for the 18-year-old Chicago Blackhawks forward was the opportunity to talk with the player he called his idol: Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby.

“Of course, my childhood idol in the hockey world and is such a good, genuine guy,” Bedard told “For me to kind of spend some time with him and learn about him, the way he kind of handles himself and everything, has been great for me.”

The meeting between Bedard, No. 1 pick in the 2023 NHL Draft, and Crosby, the No. 1 pick in the 2005 NHL Draft, was captured in photos by the Blackhawks and Penguins while each player was waiting to do some one-ice video captures at America First Center, which is the practice facility of the Vegas Golden Knights’ American Hockey League affiliate.

Later in day, Bedard discussed the meeting with Crosby and the idea that their next meeting could come on opening night, when Chicago visits Pittsburgh on Oct. 10 (8 p.m. ET; ESPN, ESPN+).

“That would be awesome,” Bedard said. “I try not to think about it too much right now, [I’m focused] on training camp and everything leading up. But if I was there and playing against him and that team, obviously it’s a pretty legendary group with him and (Evgeni) Malkin and (Kris) Letang, (Erik) Karlsson of course. That would be pretty special.”

Bedard is expected to be pretty special himself.

Perhaps the most-hyped draft prospect since Connor McDavid, who was selected by the Edmonton Oilers with the No. 1 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, and Crosby himself, Bedard is already being looked at as the new face of the Blackhawks, who are entering a season without franchise stalwarts Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews for the first time since 2007-08.

Expectations for Connor Bedard's rookie season

NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said Bedard is the latest example of the young, exciting players coming into the NHL.

“Really what excites me about this year is really a progression of what’s excited me about the last several years. I think the game is in a really, really good place. I think the game on the ice and the skill that our players have is at all-time high levels, and Connor Bedard is just the latest example of that,” Daly said. “And while I haven’t seen him play personally, by all accounts, he’s a generational player and adds to the roster of generational players we have in the League already. I think it’s got to be exciting for the League. Obviously, I know it’s exciting for the Blackhawks and their fans. Add another one to the stable, which is great for us.”

When asked if the possible Bedard-Crosby matchup on opening night was intentional, Daly said: “Yeah, for sure. All three of our matchups on opening night were strategic in nature, and you know, there was a real interest in seeing Connor Bedard on the first night of the season go against Sidney Crosby.”

Bedard, who led the Western Hockey League in goals (71) and points (143) in 57 games with Regina last season, said he tries to insert some of Crosby’s game into his own.

“Just his playmaking and the way he controls the game in the offensive zone is pretty incredible,” Bedard said. “Just his complete game. He’s such a 200-foot player, so you can learn a lot from him.”

Connor Bedard displays his skills at NHLPA Rookie Showcase

Bedard is expected to help the Blackhawks expedite their current rebuild. After winning the Stanley Cup in 2010, 2013 and 2015, Chicago has failed to qualify for the playoffs in five of the past six seasons.

Crosby can relate to Bedard’s situation.

When he was selected by Pittsburgh in the 2005 draft, the Penguins had finished in last in the Atlantic Division in three straight seasons. And although they would finish in last again during Crosby’s rookie season in 2005-06, the Penguins would make the playoffs in each of the next 16 seasons, including winning the Cup in 2009, 2016 and 2017.

As a result, the opportunity Bedard has had at the player media tour to meet Crosby, as well as Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings and Jack Eichel of the Vegas Golden Knights, isn’t lost on him.

“I mean, I think for myself, it’s a lot of people I grew up watching that you want to be like, of course,” Bedard said. “I think it’s pretty good for me and the younger guys to get to meet them and see, like I said with Sid, how they carry themselves. It’s been good.” columnist Nicholas J. Cotsonika contributed to this report

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