NHL Needs Draft, Crosby
By Joshua Cooper

The next Gretzky? The next Lafleur? The next Beliveau? The next Lemieux? These are all phrases that have been used in the past year to describe 17-year-old Sidney Crosby.

Who is Sidney Crosby you may ask? Well logistically, Crosby is the first line center for the Rimouski Oceanic of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. This past season Crosby set the QMJHL alight with 66 goals and 102 assists in a mere 62 games. He won the league scoring title by a whopping 54 points and scored a total of 94 points in the 27 games following Canada’s victory in the World Junior Hockey Championships.

Even Gretzky had been quoted as saying that he felt Crosby had a chance to challenge some of his records, something that still seems next to impossible in the offensively challenged NHL.

To top it off there was some sentiment amongst NHL players that Crosby could have played in the NHL last season as a 16-year-old.

Though we will probably see Crosby in the NHL sometime down the road, it won’t be anytime soon since the 2005 Entry Draft in Ottawa was cancelled last week by the league due to the labor dispute.

I always find it interesting that whenever a major professional sports league is in a trouble, a great player (or players) comes along, puts it on his back and leads it back to prominence.

First look at the NBA. The league was floundering in the late 70s. Television ratings were down and the league looked like it was on its way toward obscurity. Then Magic Johnson and Larry Bird came around and started the revival which helped lead to its becoming one of the most popular sports worldwide.

Baseball is another prime example. After the 1919 “Black Sox” scandal, the sport was in dire need of a hero. It found the perfect person in the sultan of swat, the legendary George Herman “Babe” Ruth.

You could even make an argument that hockey needed a superstar like Wayne Gretzky in the 1980s to help move the sport forward.

Crosby could lead the NHL for the next two decades. He could become the face of the league as he tears through the neutral zone trap and challenges Gretzky’s records. I know I’m not alone in the hockey world when I say that I am waiting with baited breath to watch the kid light the lamp against the likes of top caliber goalies such as Martin Brodeur (I guess if you’re a Devils fan, you’re not with me on that one).

But alas, we must wait until the end of the lockout to at least have an entry draft. And what if the lockout goes until the middle of next season? Then will we have to wait two years to watch the “Next One” finally take the ice at an NHL arena? I’m sure right now Crosby and his agent have their ears to the ground, waiting and watching, hoping they won’t have to find a loophole. There are some rumblings that maybe an abbreviated entry draft could occur if a CBA were reached soon, in which case Crosby would be in an NHL uniform next year.

Dollars and cents aside, the National Hockey League needs Sidney Crosby in the league to help it move past this dark phase and towards a period of revival. It’s fair to say that the economic system is broken and that the league must find common ground. But if there is any motivation in finding it, it must lay in the sweet stride, soft hands and sneaky shot of this 17-year-old phenom.




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