A Season with Sidney Crosby and the New NHL. A gripping account of the rookie season of the NHL’s next great saviour. When Sidney Crosby was first drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins, we knew he was bright, photogenic, personable, and a media darling. The only question that remained was whether he could handle the big time. From an international advertising deal with Reebok to a season of personal triumphs and gut-wrenching challenges — with a little argument from Don Cherry along the way — Sid the Kid has proven that he is the man. In the tradition ofA Season on the Brinkand Peter Gzowski’sThe Game of Our Lives, Shawna Richer has had the exclusive assignment of chronicling Sidney Crosby’s incredible rookie season. Beginning with the NHL entry draft that almost never was, Richer follows Crosby to Pittsburgh, where he is greeted as the team’s saviour and moves in with living legend Mario Lemieux. Just eighteen, the league’s youngest player makes the leap to the NHL look easy and is named its best rookie in his first month, while performing under great expectations and intense scrutiny. He quickly becomes his team’s leading scorer and best player; there are triumphant openings in New York, Toronto, and Montreal. But like Gretzky and Lemieux, the young superstars who came before him, his first NHL season provides immense challenges. The Penguins struggle to win games and fire their coach early on, all with the threat that the team may be sold and leave Pittsburgh hanging over their heads. Through it all, Crosby rises to each challenge. His story is destined to become a classic. With less than a minute left to play, and the game appearing to be headed to a shootout, Crosby vaulted over the bench for his final shift. At the same time, across the rink in the corner near the Penguins net, Ryan Malone pulled the puck onto his stick. The rangy sophomore forward looked around for an open man nearby, but then he spied Crosby near centre ice, just starting to head across the zone. The rookie was wide open and all alone. Malone fired a long lead pass to his teammate straight up the middle of the rink. Just over the centre line, Crosby pulled the puck in and charged into the Flyers zone, all the anger from earlier contained entirely on the blade of his stick. The only thing between him and Niittymaki was less than ninety feet of well-worn ice. The Finnish goaltender shimmied out of his crease in an attempt to cut down the view of the net, but Crosby was churning so hard and so fast he quickly backed up. Sidney spotted an opening on Niittymaki’s stick side, and in an instant, he shot and scored. He raised his arms and shouted. He circled back toward centre ice, all broken teeth and fat lip and unbridled rage and joy and sweet revenge in one package. The crowd roared its displeasure. –FromThe Rookie From the Hardcover edition.