About the Author

Shawna Richer

Books by this Author
The Kid

The Kid

A Season with Sidney Crosby and the New NHL
also available: eBook
tagged : hockey, sports
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The Rookie

The Rookie

A Season with Sidney Crosby and the New NHL
also available: Hardcover
tagged : sports, hockey
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The Arrival
It was a great day for hockey.

The National Hockey League entry draft held July 30, 2005, on a warm summer afternoon in downtown Ottawa was the most celebrated and significant selection day held in several decades. At the same time it was entirely anti-­climactic.

Hastily arranged after the nhl owners and players reached a deal to end an acrimonious 310-­day lockout that forced cancellation of the 2004-­2005 season, the draft starred the most desirable young hockey player to come along since Mario Lemieux had arrived on the scene in 1984. A teenaged boy from a small village on the eastern shore of Nova Scotia was a lock to be the number one pick.

His name was Sidney Crosby. He had tousled dark hair and an abundant cowlick, bee-­stung lips, a generous, toothy grin, and in most lights he resembled exactly what he was — a boy still sixteen days shy of his eighteenth birthday. For someone who had not yet played a single shift of professional hockey, he was already remarkably famous.

Several seasons before the ugly labour dispute shut down Canada’s beloved pastime, the 2005 nhl draft became billed as the Sidney Crosby Sweepstakes. For years, his childhood scoring prowess had been widely known throughout the Maritimes. He was thrust into the national spotlight at the age of fourteen after a remarkable mvp performance in what was then called the Air Canada Cup, the country’s championship tournament for midget-­aged players, in April 2002. Crosby went on to set records in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with the Rimouski Oceanic — his 135 points as a sixteen-­year-­old was the most by a player that age in the Quebec league’s history and second in Canadian Hockey League history, behind only Wayne Gretzky’s 182 points with Sault Ste. Marie in 1977-­1978. In what had become the most often repeated tale of his young life so far, Crosby’s reputation was bolstered even further when Gretzky himself told a sportswriter with the Arizona Republic that the Canadian youngster was the only player he had ever seen who had a shot at breaking his own numerous nhl scoring records.

The draft order had been set a week earlier, but even before that Crosby had eagerly promised to don the sweater of whichever team selected him. That he would play in the nhl was a highly anticipated certainty, one of the few things about the league’s return to action that autumn that was predictable. This draft, even more than the ratification of the collective bargaining agreement by the National Hockey League Players’ Association and its subsequent unanimous acceptance by the league’s thirty owners, marked the return of hockey and the birth of the nhl’s renaissance. Sidney’s arrival in the nhl ­didn’t just coincide with hockey’s homecoming, it more or less launched it.

The league was desperately in need of a saviour, a gifted, gracious poster boy who could help repair the widespread damage caused by the previous season’s strike and the flood of negative publicity that ensued. Crosby had already been christened the Next One, just as several other players, chiefly Eric Lindros and Joe Thornton, had been at one time. But already Crosby seemed different from those who had come before.

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