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Sid the Kid is coming to town

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The heck with Santa, he shows up every year. It's Sid the Kid who is finally coming to town.

That's what ravenous hockey fans are saying in Western Canada this week as the Pittsburgh Penguins visit Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver over a four-day stretch starting Wednesday night in northern Alberta. It's the first trip to each city in Sidney Crosby's NHL career.

The weather is positively frigid, but this will be one hot ticket.

"Everyone wants to see this kid," Flames general manager Darryl Sutter said. "They want to see the stars. It's the same when (Alexander) Ovechkin came in last year."

It's taken nearly one-third of the way into Crosby's third NHL season to finally complete the 30-city circuit. These are the final three stops the 20-year-old native of Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia has to make to give everyone around the league an opportunity to witness him live.

"It's always nice to go to a new place, it's nice to play someone new," Crosby said by phone. "It feels like your first year again."

Crosby will be in demand this week. Canada's TSN is airing Wednesday's game from Edmonton, Saturday's contest in Vancouver is the second half of Hockey Night in Canada and Rogers Sportsnet is following the tour day-by-day. It might remind him a bit of his first day of training camp three years ago when 11 Canadian media outlets were on hand to record his every move.

"I'd never complain about the attention – ever," said Crosby, already 186 games into a superstar's career. "I feel very fortunate to be doing what I love to do. Not everyone gets that chance every day.

"This is just part of it, and it comes down to managing my time to make sure I concentrate on my passion, which is the hockey."

Surprisingly, despite his high profile status as a junior star and national team member, Crosby had not appeared in any of these three buildings before reaching the NHL.

Twice he appeared in the city of Calgary – but never inside the Saddledome – when at age 14 Crosby visited as a member of the Dartmouth Subways and a year later with Shattuck-St. Mary's prep school from Minnesota.

"The thing about Sidney Crosby, he's such a great ambassador for the game," said Sutter, whose team hosts Crosby on Thursday night. "He's a star, but he's a kid who is just himself. He plays for the love of the game, and that's what everybody loves to see."

Press conferences are planned after morning skates and following the games in each city as the Penguins are trying to balance Crosby's availability with his need to focus on the task at hand.

"We know it's going to be crazy," Pittsburgh media relations contact Frank Buonomo told an Edmonton reporter. "But I'm starting to think it's going to be worse than I expected."

In the meantime, Crosby is getting pretty good at this debut stuff. The last four cities he's visited for the first time – Dallas, Phoenix, Minnesota and Colorado – the reigning league MVP has scored a combined four goals and 12 points with 14 shots on goal and stands at a plus-5. The Penguins have won three of those four.

Starting with his NHL debut on Oct. 5, 2005, Pittsburgh is 8-13-6 when Crosby visits a city for the first time. In those games he has scored 14 goals and assited on 24 others for 38 points. All told he is a minus-2 in the 27 contests (11 times each a minus or plus skater and five times even).

A look at Crosby's performance the first time in each NHL city follows:

1) at New Jersey (Oct. 5, 2005): Devils 5, Penguins 1 – No goals, first career assist and point, minus-2, three shots, 15:50 total ice time (23 shifts) lost 10 of 16 faceoffs.

2) At Carolina (Oct. 7, 2005): Hurricanes 3, Penguins 2 (SO) – No goals, one assist, minus-1, three shots (denied by Cam Ward in shootout), 20:09 (26 shifts), lost 14 of 22 faceoffs.

3) At Pittsburgh (Oct. 8, 2005): Bruins 7, Penguins 6 (OT) – First career goal, two assists, first career multi-point game, plus-1, two shots on goal, 19:16 (24 shifts), lost 15 of 22 faceoffs.

4) At Buffalo (Oct. 10, 2005): Sabres 3, Penguins 2 (OT) – No goals, one assist, plus-2, three shots on goal, first career penalty minutes (2), 21:32 (28 shifts), lost 15 of 19 faceoffs.

5) At Philadelphia (Oct. 12, 2005): Flyers 6, Penguins 5 (OT) – One goal, one assist, minus-2, two shots on goal, two PIM, 16:59 (23 shifts), lost eight of 11 faceoffs.

6) At Boston (Oct. 22, 2005): Bruins 6, Penguins 3 – No goals, two assists, plus-2, three shots on goal, 16:24 (18 shifts), lost four of five faceoffs.

7) At N.Y. Islanders (Nov. 3, 2005): Penguins 5, Islanders 1 – First two-goal game, 1 assist, plus-1 seven shots on goal, two PIM, 18:06 (22 shifts), no faceoffs.

8) At N.Y. Rangers (Nov. 7, 2005): Penguins 3, Rangers 2 – One goal, even, two shots on goal, 15:45 (20 shifts), no faceoffs.

9) At Atlanta (Nov. 9. 2005): Thrashers 5, Penguins 0 – Minus-1, four shots on goal, 19:27 (22 shifts), lost three of three faceoffs.

10) At Florida (Nov. 25, 2005): Panthers 6, Penguins 3 – One goal, plus-1, four shots on goal, 16:57 (21 shifts), won one of two faceoffs.

11) At Tampa Bay (Nov. 27, 2005): Lightning 4, Penguins 1 – Held scoreless, even, one shot on goal, two PIM, 18:39 (21 shifts), lost one of one faceoff.

12) At Detroit (Dec. 12, 2005): Red Wings 3, Penguins 1 – No goals, one assist, plus-1, one shot on goal, two PIM, 18:11 (20 shifts), won five of eight faceoffs.

13) At St. Louis (Dec. 13, 2005): Blues 3, Penguins 0 – Minus-3, three shots, 21:54 (24 shifts), lost 10 of 16 faceoffs.

14) At Toronto (Jan. 2, 2006): Maple Leafs 3, Penguins 2 (OT) – One assist, minus-1, two shots, 17:08 (24 shifts), lost 11 of 16 faceoffs.

15) At Montreal (Jan. 3, 2006): Penguins 6, Canadiens 4 – Two goals, plus-2, five shots, two PIM, 18:59 (25 shifts), lost 11 of 14 faceoffs.

16) At Columbus (Jan. 11, 2006): Blue Jackets 6, Penguins 1 – No points, minus-2, three shots, four PIM, 20:26 (25 shifts), lost 13 of 22 faceoffs.

17) At Chicago (Jan. 13, 2006): Blackhawks 4, Penguins 1 – One assist, even, three shots, 17:56 (24 shifts), won 12 of 24 faceoffs.

18) At Nashville (Jan. 15, 2006): Predators 5, Penguins 4 – One assist, minus-1, nine shots, two PIM, 20:29 (27 shifts), lost 14 of 23 faceoffs.

19) At Ottawa (Feb. 6, 2006): Senators 5, Penguins 2 – No points, minus-1, three shots, 20:20 (24 shifts), lost 14 of 22 faceoffs.

20) At Washington (Feb. 11, 2006): Penguins 6, Capitals 3 – One goal, one assist, even, five shots on goal, two PIM, 19:40 (28 shifts), won 17 of 25 faceoffs.

21) At Los Angeles (Nov. 1, 2006): Penguins 4, Kings 3 (OT) – Three assists, plus-1, no shots, 22:14 (23 shifts), lost nine of 15 faceoffs.

22) At San Jose (Nov. 4, 2006): Sharks 3, Penguins 2 – No points, minus-2, no shots, two PIM, 20:56 (25 shifts), lost 10 of 17 faceoffs.

23) At Anaheim (Nov. 6, 2006): Ducks 3, Penguins 2 (OT) – One assist, even, no shots, 19:29 (20 shifts), won eight of 15 faceoffs.

24) At Dallas (Jan. 26, 2007): Penguins 4, Stars 3 (SO) – Two assists, plus-1, two shots (denied by Marty Turco in shootout), 21:34 (27 shifts), lost 14 of 26 faceoffs.

25) At Phoenix (Jan. 27, 2007): Penguins 7, Coyotes 2 – One goal, three assists, plus-1, four shots, 18:33 (22 shifts), lost 12 of 23 faceoffs.

26) At Minnesota (Oct. 30, 2007): Penguins 4, Wild 2 – One goal, three assists, plus-3, four shots, 21:30 (29 shifts), won 15 of 22 faceoffs.

27) At Colorado (Nov. 1, 2007): Avalanche 3, Penguins 2 – Two goals, even, four shots, four PIM, 22:59 (25 shifts), won 13 of 22 faceoffs.