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Despite Modesty, Crosby Remains Canada Shoo-in

by Adam Kimelman / Pittsburgh Penguins
PHILADELPHIA -- Whether it's a Tim Horton's in Vancouver, a Loblaw in Toronto, a lounge at Montreal-Trudeau Airport or his local dry cleaner, any place Steve Yzerman goes, the executive director of Canada's Olympic team is hearing everyone else's ideas of who should be on the national team roster for the Vancouver Games.

Proud Canadian citizen Sidney Crosby shouldn't be excluded from the fun. But the Pittsburgh Penguins captain and likely first-line center on the Olympic team wasn't ready to jump into that pool.

He said he just hopes to be on the team.

It's likely that Crosby can safely reserve a room in Vancouver come mid-February.

When Yzerman announces the make-up of the team Dec. 30, it's a certainty Crosby will on the roster. That fact, though, hasn't distracted Crosby from his regular job, leading the Penguins' bid for a second-straight Stanley Cup.

"I haven't really thought about it a lot," Crosby said following Thursday's practice at the Wachovia Center. "I guess the closer it comes, the more I'll probably think about it. I really have been just focusing on making sure my game is where it needs to be and doing my best here."

He's certainly accomplished that.

Crosby entered Thursday's game against the Flyers second in the League with 21 goals and fourth with 41 points. And in 15 games since a career-long five-game scoring drought, Crosby has 12 goals and 25 points.

Crosby's numbers now are similar to where he stood in December four years ago, when Canada picked its team for the 2006 Olympics in Turin, Italy. On Dec. 29, 2005, Crosby, then a rookie, had 18 goals and 40 points in 36 games. Those numbers boosted him into Olympic contention despite being barely 18 years old.

However, Wayne Gretzky left him off the team that finished seventh.

"It wasn't even in my mind when the season started," said Crosby. "Then my name started getting thrown around. After that it was just a chance, but I wasn't expecting it by any means. As soon as I didn't get picked I became a fan.

"There was absolutely no hard feelings. I think I was just more happy that I was considered. Going into that season I just wanted to have a good start to my first NHL season and worry about that. To be thrown into the mix was a confidence boost to me."

Crosby said he watched the Olympics from home and was disappointed by the results, like every other Canadian fan.

"It was difficult," he said. "There's pressure on Canada anytime they play on the world stage. A lot of people were disappointed. The first thing you feel bad for is the players. You realize how important it is as a Canadian player to go over there and do their best. Every guy did and unfortunately it didn't work out. I think being a player that's the first thing you think of."

Crosby will be one of the players tasked with changing those results in Vancouver. For Canadians, these Olympics, on home soil, could be the most anticipated games since the 1972 Summit Series.

Crosby, though, said no matter where the games are played, the pressure to win will be paramount.

"I think whether it's in Canada or Italy, the expectations don't really change, they're always the same," he said. "I think as a Canadian player you always realize, and as a Canadian fan, basically you go there to win. That's what's expected. That doesn't change whether it's in Canada or Italy or whatever it is.
There's pressure, but I don't think there can be any more than it is no matter where it is."
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