Pittsburgh found the Golden Ticket and will have the first pick in next week's NHL Entry Draft.
The grand and glorious jackpot is prospect Sidney Crosby, whose impeccable hockey name is backed by some serious credentials.* He's nearly as strong a prospect as his new teammate and owner, Pittsburgh's previous first-overall pick, Mr. Mario Lemeiux; he even has his own fan site.** (Not bad for 17 years old, eh?)
The rumor back in '84 was that the Penguins tanked to finish last and grab Super Mario with the first pick - nor would you blame them. (In '83-'84 they finished 16-58-6.) But the possibility led both the NHL and NBA to have annual lotteries to determine the draft order of the non-playoff teams. Because of the late unpleasantness, every team had a shot at the brass ring this time around, even the "defending" champion, Tampa Bay. (That still doesn't look right in print.) Pittsburgh is in, and they need the help on and off the ice.
America's Hockey Team is in the middle of the pack, #15, one notch above where they grabbed up Petteri Nokelainen in '04. (Now that's a world-class hockey name.) The Rangers are #16. Heheheheheh.
* I got this link courtesy the invaluable Hockey Database. They also have a link to purchase vintage jerseys. I've been drooling for an old Isles roadie. I settled for the new PC.*** There's always Christmas...
** Click with caution. Believe it or not, Sid's been inspiring fan fiction. Most of it is dreadful. All of it is creepy beyond compare. I mean, I'm a goalie and a writer - I could quite easily pen some half-baked trash about stoning Crosby on a penalty shot to win Olympic gold for the USA against Canada, but it would be A/ spectacularly unrealistic and B/ disrespectful to a great talent and a great game.
You may think I'm being a little harsh on the webmistress of the Crosby site (a girl with a fan crush on a hot young athlete, what were the odds?), and you'd be right. If she must indulge, I must give one bit of well-meant advice. Miss, if you say "for the love of God in Heaven, please make sure you USE the spell + grammar check," and threaten to edit other people's work accordingly, you must not give us such grammatical howlers as demonstrated here.
*** A separate post will follow with the official name of the new rig. Who guessed right? The suspense is terrible - I hope it will last...