So it's official: the Pittsburgh Penguins snagged golden boy Sidney Crosby. Three balls did pay off, but not for the Buffalo Sabres who received -- ironically -- the 13th spot in the draft. 13 ... yea, not the luckiest number.
When it came down to the last two picks (and holding my breath long enough to suffocate), I guess I was leaning my wishes toward Brian Burke and the Anaheim Mighty Ducks. But the Steel City won out in the end, with its second number one draft pick in three years. Crosby will join the Penguins franchise, one that had for years lived in a bottomless pit, reinvigorating a team that includes Mario Lemieux (nice linemate), Mark Recchi and goaltender Marc Andre-Fleury. In a few seconds the team transformed from a checkmark on most team's schedules to a feared competitor.
Still, would have been "better" for Crosby to land in a bigger NHL market to promote the game instead of a dying franchise like Pittsburgh? Time will tell.
Congratulations to all Pittsburgh fans. On this historical day, you marched away with the most to look forward to on Oct. 5.
Speaking of Oct. 5 (opening night -- all 30 teams will be in action), one of the most interesting things to come out of the announcement of the CBA ratification was the changes in the schedule (NHL.com):
- Each club will play eight games against each of its four division rivals (32 total).
- Each club will play four games against each of the 10 non-division clubs in its conference (40 total).
- Each club will play 10 inter-conference games, hosting one game each against all five clubs from a designated division and traveling for one game each against all five clubs from a different division. For the 2005-06 season, Northeast Division clubs will host the Pacific Division and visit the Northwest; Atlantic Division clubs will host the Northwest and visit the Central; and Southeast Division clubs will host the Central and visit the Pacific. Division vs. division assignments will rotate annually.
I don't really like this. First, the Sabres will not play the Detroit Red Wings this year, which means I can't see them play unless I drive to an Eastern Conference city. And playing division rivals eight times? Great if your team is an easier division, such as the Central or Southeast. But not so great if everyone in your division made the playoffs last season except your favorite team (Buffalo, Northeast Division).
Still, I'm glad every team will play the majority of the teams in the league and that they kept 82 games on the schedule. I think it's important that they didn't wipe out inter-conference games completely. As a fan, I like seeing the rest of the league. Granted, I won't miss not playing Nashville this season.
I just feel bad for the Pacific division, who will have to watch Crosby on TV.
It's going to take some time for the media, players, GMs, coaches and fans to wrap their minds around the 600+ page CBA document. But in the meanwhile, here's a few links to sort through the madness:
NHL CBA FAQ: Great collection of questions (shootout? revenue sharing?) asked and answered on NHL.com.