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First the Leafs, then the all-star game for NHL scoring leader Crosby

The Canadian Press
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The Hockey News
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First the Leafs, then the all-star game for NHL scoring leader Crosby

The Canadian Press
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The Toronto Maple Leafs come visiting his Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night (7 p.m. ET), their last game before the five-day break.

"It's not hard to get up for that at all," Crosby said of facing the Leafs, who are two points ahead of the Penguins in the standings. "The all-star game is obviously going to be a fun time but we have an important game before that and that's where my focus will be."

Speaking Friday to reporters from all over North America on an NHL conference call, Crosby couldn't hide his excitement about next week's all-star events.

"There's a lot of guys there that I grew up watching and to get the opportunity to meet them and play with them, it's definitely going to be enjoyable," said Crosby.

It's easy to forget he's only 19. Just ask him where he was when the NHL all-star game was last played three years ago in Minnesota.

"I was in Rimouski," said Crosby. "Probably shovelling (snow)."

He was a 16-year-old phenom playing for the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. Now he's the NHL's scoring leader who also happened to lead all players in fan balloting with 825,783 votes - the youngest ever to hold that honour.

"Everything seems to be happening at a lightning-fast pace," said his agent Pat Brisson. "But he's got the maturity to handle it very professionally."

Crosby, meanwhile, doesn't have far to go to hear about all-star game memories. His landlord/team owner Mario Lemieux is all over the all-star record book, holding the record for most points in a game, six, and tied for most goals in game at four.

Wouldn't it be nice for Sid The Kid to bring home some bragging rights braking one of Super Mario's records? Maybe one day, Crosby says.

"For sure that would be fun," said Crosby, a hint of excitement in his voice. "But got to start with one (game) first, right?"

Crosby has his own all-star game memories from watching them on TV at his family home in Cole Harbour, N.S.

"I remember when Owen Nolan pointed for the hat trick on (Dominik) Hasek in San Jose," said Crosby. "And I remember Ray Bourque tearing up the skills competition for the target shooting, and Al Iafrate having the hardest shot one year, things like that.

"Every year was fun to say those skilled players go on the ice, have fun and make some nice plays. It was enjoyable to watch."

Crosby and his fellow all-stars will be wearing the NHL's new Reebok uniforms next week and he gives them the thumbs up after trying one on earlier this season.

"It felt good," Crosby said. "It's a little bit tighter than the traditional one that we wear now, but at the same time I think it's not uncomfortable by any means. They showed me the water resistance, things like that. Doesn't take in water at all.

"They should be a little more comfortable I think, and just that whole thing about being lighter is going to help over the course of the year."

Crosby heads to Dallas clearly the headliner, the NHL not shy about putting him front and centre with the likes of Alexander Ovechkin.

He's OK with that.

"Yeah, I think so, that's part of it," said Crosby. "You know, we all love to play and hopefully we can bring interest to other people watching it or even people would want to play it, as well.

"You know, there's nothing wrong with that, and I think it's good to have a young group like we have and hopefully it can be a successful group for years to come."

Another first awaits Crosby after the all-star break. His second game back is against Wayne Gretzky and the Phoenix Coyotes.

"That will be a fun game for sure," said Crosby, who grew up idolizing The Great One.

The comparisons between the two are flooding in these days with Crosby's magical sophomore year.

"I'll always be the first guy to tell you that there is never going to be another Wayne Gretzky," said Crosby. "But it's always been a compliment when the comparison has been there and it's something that motivates you I think as a player to do well when you hear things like that."

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First the Leafs, then the all-star game for NHL scoring leader Crosby