PITTSBURGH – Sidney Crosby will skip the Canadian junior national team development camp next weekend to attend the Pittsburgh Penguins’ rookie orientation camp.

Crosby, the No. 1 pick in last weekend’s NHL entry draft, would have to miss part of the NHL season in December to play for the Canadian junior team, as the Penguins allowed 2003 No. 1 draft pick Marc-Andre Fleury to do.

But there seems little chance the Penguins would part with their prized draft pick, especially during a peak attendance period. The team’s season ticket sales have taken a large upswing since the Penguins won the NHL draft lottery two weeks ago and subsequently chose Crosby – Canada’s top junior scorer since Penguins owner-player Mario Lemieux in the early 1980s.

With Crosby not attending camp, Hockey Canada replaced Crosby with Windsor Spitfires forward Steve Downie, the Philadelphia Flyers’ first-round pick in the July 30 draft. The Canadian junior camp is scheduled for Aug. 10-16 in Whistler, British Columbia.

Crosby, who turns 18 on Sunday, will make his first trip to Pittsburgh for the rookie weekend. He is scheduled to arrive in Pittsburgh on Wednesday and undergo physical testing and orientation Thursday and Friday.

“We did this for the first time in the summer of 2003, and we believe it’s a good way for some of our young prospects to come into town and get to know a little bit about our organization and our city before training camp,” Penguins general manager Craig Patrick said in a statement. “We’ll put them through a series of tests, and they’ll also have a chance to meet with our coaches and trainers.”

Other Penguins prospects expected to attend are center Ryan Stone (second round, 2003), defenseman Noah Welch (second round, 2001), defenseman Ryan Lannon (eighth round, 2002), center Jordan Morrison (seventh round, 2004) and defenseman Jean-Philippe Paquet (sixth round, 2005).


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