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by Staff Writer / Pittsburgh Penguins

Pittsburgh Penguins fans can breathe a sigh of relief – Sidney Crosby is officially a Penguin.

Crosby stopped by Mellon Arena on Friday to autograph his first NHL contract – not that there was any doubt it would happen. Now, the first pick in the NHL Entry Draft can focus on creating his niche in Pittsburgh.

“It’s nice to have that out of the way and (be able to) just focus on playing here,” Crosby said. “I am very excited. It’s been a very long month. The month of August, there has been a lot of anticipation. I am definitely looking forward to getting on the ice every day and meeting the guys here.”

Crosby had a chance to skate with some of his teammates Friday morning. He got a preview of the speed and the skill on the NHL level. He will face it full-force once the Penguins open training camp Tuesday at Mellon Arena.

“I felt myself getting better just after an hour and a half (of skating). I want to have a good camp. I want to push myself to raise my game as much as I can during camp,” Crosby said. “Going from Juniors to the NHL…it’s a whole other level. I just want to make sure I have a good camp and try to adapt as soon as I can.”

It will help Crosby to be around the talented group of players the Penguins have acquired since last season such as Mark Recchi, John LeClair, Ziggy Palffy and Sergei Gonchar.

“I feel very fortunate to be in this situation,” Crosby said. “A lot of guys who get drafted early go to a team that’s maybe rebuilding. That’s not the case here. There are great players here. I have the opportunity to learn that much more.”

Crosby has a chance to learn from a Hall of Famer in Mario Lemieux, who doubles as his housemate.

“There’s a great group of guys to learn from here, but there’s not a better guy to learn from (than Mario),” Crosby said. “To learn from the best, I am very lucky.”

Nevertheless, Crosby won’t be star struck playing on a team with so much talent.

“I am going to push myself to get better through camp and adapt myself the best I can.

The guys are so big and strong and fast. I am just trying to learn as much as I can out there,” Crosby said. “At the same time, I have to compete and play at that level. I am definitely trying to learn. But for me, I think I have to be confident in what I can do. I can’t be out there watching. I have to go out there and try to play the way I know how. I am going to learn as much as I can watching these guys, but I don’t want to be standing still.”

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