Olczyk: No added pressure because of Crosby
Eddie Olczyk was sitting in his office in Mellon Arena watching on television when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman opened the envelope with the Penguins logo printed inside and held it for all to see.
His team had just won the draft lottery and the rights to Sidney Crosby, the most acclaimed prospect since Olczyk’s boss, Mario Lemieux, came along.
Now, Olczyk is just days away from officially becoming Crosby’s first coach in the NHL when the Penguins select him first overall in the Entry Draft on Saturday.
No pressure, Olczyk said.
At least no more than he usually puts himself under.
“Why would I (feel extra pressure), I guess?” said the second-year coach. “That’s outside perception. I think it’s a valid question, but anybody who knows me would probably be able to understand that I’m going to be the same person. I’m going to give just as much the last time we played hockey as I will right now. Do I feel more pressureâ¢ Absolutely not.”
Olczyk, who has never met Crosby, said he called the 17-year-old native of Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Saturday. Olczyk will not be in Ottawa for the draft this weekend because of league limits on team representatives for this year’s scaled-back affair.
“I just wanted to introduce myself to him and tell him I’m looking forward to meeting him face to face,” Olczyk said. “It was just an introductory call really, very informal. Nothing in depth. I just told him we were extremely excited and the city was unbelievably excited.”
Since the lockout officially ended Friday with the NHL Board of Governors’ ratification of the collective bargaining agreement, Olczyk has been working to put together a training camp schedule. Most of camp will be at Mellon Arena, with several days and at least one game in Wilkes-Barre. The Penguins also will play one preseason game against the Senators in Ottawa.
The NHL will release its full schedule at noon today.
As far as training camp rosters, Olczyk will have to wait until general manager Craig Patrick completes a busy few weeks of signing restricted and unrestricted free agents to know who will be in camp. But Crosby has said he has every intention of not only being there but also making the team this year.
Olczyk said that he will have a responsibility to put Crosby in the position to be successful as he makes the transition from juniors to the NHL, and he’s looking forward to it.
“Good players make good coaches and great players make better coaches,” he said. “It’s going to be up to me. He’s not going to be any different from any other player as far as finding where he’ll fit in and the right mix and the right combination. That’s up to me, but I don’t feel any added pressure with all the hype. I had a chance to work alongside Mario (Lemieux) the last little while and that’s pressure in itself.”
Note: The Penguins are hoping to hold some type of draft party similar to last year’s live event at Bar Louie at the Waterfront. Details will be forthcoming.
Karen Price is a former freelancer.