VANCOUVER - He hadn't even played his first NHL game in Vancouver but Sidney Crosby was already thinking about coming back to help Team Canada win a gold medal at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.
"It would be nice," Crosby said Friday before the Pittsburgh Penguins practised at GM Place, where the Olympic gold medal game will be played. "It's a dream for everyone, especially myself.
"Being Canadian you want to play for Team Canada. With the talent that Canada has, they always have a chance to win. It would be nice to be part of that."
Crosby was in his rookie season in 2005-06 and was left off the Canadian team that failed to win a medal at the 2006 Winter Games in Turin. He feels no bitterness about not being included on that team.
"I don't think it was too bad," he said. "It was my first year in the league. Going into that season I never would have thought I had the chance.
"Looking back, there wasn't a sense of disappointment. It was just the way it was. The day I didn't make the team I was pulling for them. I'm Canadian just like everyone else. I want my country to win."
The Penguins will play the Vancouver Canucks Saturday before a Hockey Night in Canada audience (10 p.m. ET). It will be Crosby's first game in Vancouver and he's become used to the excitement his presence generates.
His short news conference Friday drew seven television cameras and about 40 media members.
"It's part of it," said Crosby, who wore a baseball hat on his mop of black hair and bright yellow clogs on his feet. "I don't think I need it.
"Being in Canada I think it's more expected."
While he was happy to look ahead to the Olympics, Crosby wanted to forget about the criticism he received back in January of 2005 when he pulled out of the CHL's Top Prospects game.
The 17-year-old had just helped Canada win a gold medal at the world junior championships and said an injury prevented him from playing in the prospects game.
At the time Ron Toigo, owner of the WHL Vancouver Giants, questioned the comparisons between Crosby and Wayne Gretzky.
"The history of Wayne Gretzky is that he would be here with one leg if that's what it took because it's good for the game," Toigo said.
Crosby said the incident is ancient history.
"It was totally out of anyone's control," said the 20-year-old from Cole Harbour, N.S.. "I got hurt. That happens and unfortunately I missed playing a game here. That's the reality of it.
"It's behind me, to be honest. I don't really worry about it. There's a lot of things that happen over the course of a hockey season and the course of a career. You move on and that's one of them."
Toigo said Friday he was more frustrated with the Rimouski Oceanic, Crosby's QMJHL team, than the player himself.
"My beef was more with their organization than with him," Toigo said. "It was during the (NHL lockout) and he was a bright light for the game at the time.
"For what ever reason it didn't work out and they decided not to allow him to play. It was never really directed at him. I admire him. I think he's doing a great job for the game today."
Toigo plans to be part of the sellout crowd of 18,630 attending Saturday's game.
Crosby shrugged when asked if he expected any negative feedback from the crowd.
"I said before the first two games I played on this trip, I prepare myself to play a road game," he said. "If anything comes good out of it, I appreciate it and it's a bonus."
The Canucks come into the game on a roll. They have won five of their last six games and lead the Northwest Division with a 16-10-2 record.
"They're a team that is pretty complete," said Crosby, who was the NHL's leading scorer and most valuable player last year. "They have some great offensive players, are great defensively, and when you have a goalie like (Roberto) Luongo, you have a chance to win every night.
"In all areas of the ice we have to make sure we are competing."
The Penguins - who have a 14-12-2 record and hold down the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference - will be playing their third game in four nights.
Crosby had three assists in the third period as Pittsburgh recovered from a 2-0 deficit to beat the Edmonton Oilers 4-2 Wednesday but was held off the scoresheet and without a shot in the Penguins 3-2 shootout win over the Calgary Flames Thursday.
"I think the last game I didn't generate a lot," he said. "I wasn't happy with that.
"It wasn't because of a lack of effort. It's just sometimes the way it goes. Sometimes you need breaks and it didn't happen. I thought the game before it was a matter of just waiting for my chances. I thought I'd take advantage of them when I did."
Last week the NHL voted to change its schedule to a format that guarantees at least one game each year between all the teams. That should mean Vancouver fans won't have to wait another three years to see Crosby again.
It's a move the young superstar approves of.
"It's great for everyone, not just me or anyone else," he said. "It will be nice for fans to see some new players, some new teams. I think everyone benefits from it. I think it's going to be better that way."