Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby is thrilled Pittsburgh hockey fans finally will get a chance to see Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid play in person.
McDavid and Team North America will face Team Czech Republic in the first of two World Cup of Hockey 2016 pretournament games at Consol Energy Center on Sept. 14 (3:30 p.m. ET; ESPN3, SN, TVA Sports).
"I think the one [player] that would stick out is Connor McDavid ," Crosby told the Penguins website Friday. "… To be able to see him, someone who plays usually out west and is as good as he is, to be able to see him up close, that young team is going to be pretty fast and should make for pretty entertaining hockey to watch. I think that whole team will be exciting to watch."
McDavid, the No. 1 pick of the 2015 NHL Draft, had 16 goals and 48 points in 45 games as a rookie last season. His 1.07 points per game average was third in the League among players to skate in at least 40 games last season and he was a finalist for the Calder Trophy. He missed the Oilers' 3-2 shootout win in Pittsburgh on Nov. 28 after he fractured his left clavicle Nov. 3 against the Philadelphia Flyers.
Crosby and Team Canada will play Team Russia in the second pretournament game (7:30 p.m. ET; ESPN2, SN, TVA Sports).
"It's fun. Obviously I'm familiar with the surroundings, and to play at your home rink is great," Crosby said. "Hopefully, I'll be able to show the guys around the city a little bit and just show off Pittsburgh. Everyone's probably used to coming to the hotel and the rink when they come to town for a game, so maybe if we get an extra few days we'll be able to see the city and [I can] show it off a little bit."
On Aug. 25, Crosby was named captain of Team Canada for the World Cup, which will be played at Air Canada Centre in Toronto from Sept. 17-Oct. 1. McDavid was among the first 16 players selected for Team North America, which is comprised of the best players 23 and younger from Canada and the United States.
"It's going to be pretty intense hockey," Crosby said of the World Cup. "I think that's what you prepare for. I would say that the level, the talent, the skill is going to be so high, and I think to have that kind of hockey at that time of year, where usually guys are kind of getting back into it at that time, getting ready for camps and stuff, this is going to be a pretty high level of hockey right away. So it's exciting. Coming off playoffs last year and being back in some really big games right away, I'm excited."
Crosby said Pittsburgh deserves to host the pretournament games.
"The World Cup wouldn't come here if there wasn't enough support, if they didn't think people had passion for the game," Crosby said. "So it says a lot about this city and their passion for hockey and the support that they show at big events.
"I think for a fan's perspective, they're going to be able to see some great hockey and some teams that are assembled with some unbelievable talent and skill. I think the people will be happy with what they see on the ice, and I think as players, everyone will be excited to play in front of a big crowd and definitely an energetic one."
Crosby is no stranger to international competition. He is a member of the Triple Gold Club having won two Olympic gold medals (2010, 2014), World Championship gold (2015) and the Stanley Cup (2009, 2016).
"I think being able to have the opportunity to represent your country at any level and at any event is great," Crosby said. "And I think that knowing what the level is like -- you look back to Olympics and other international events, World Championships and stuff like that -- it's such a high level of hockey. It's fun to be able to play in Canada too. You know that there's going to be a ton of support and a ton of excitement."