PITTSBURGH – Sidney Crosby spent his first full day in Pittsburgh on Thursday, yet it already must feel like home. For all the attention he’s getting, the autographs he’s signing, the tickets he’s selling, it seems as though he’s back in Canada.

Crosby, hockey’s most prized prospect in two decades and already one of Canada’s best-known athletes, didn’t know what to expect from his first visit to his new city. Yet he couldn’t have expected this: A rock star-like arrival at the airport, a police escort and fans yelling his name, though he has yet to take his NHL first shift or skate in his first Penguins practice.

“I didn’t anticipate anything – I was just showing up and seeing what the town and people were about, but it was a very welcoming sight,” Crosby said. “I’m sure the energy and excitement in town are going to rub off on the players. It’s nice to see everybody’s so excited about getting hockey started.”

The Steelers normally dominate the city’s sports news in August, yet the media contingent for Crosby’s first day with the Penguins was larger than that covering the Steelers’ training camp.

Three TV crews from Canadian sports networks made the trip south to cover Crosby taking a physical exam and doing conditioning tests. He also found time for a quick tour of Mellon Arena, his new home ice, and to visit owner-player Mario Lemieux’s spacious house, where he will live during his rookie season.

It’s not because the Penguins think their most prized teenager since Lemieux in 1984 will be less tempted to break curfew if he’s staying at the boss’ house.

Rather, Crosby can’t think of a better way to experience the NHL than being guided on and off the ice by a Hall of Famer whose career he has long emulated.

“It’s going to be nice just to talk to him and talk about some hockey things,” Crosby said. “It’s been busy, with the lottery and the draft, and I just want to get started and see what the level of play is like and get out there and push myself and get ready for the season.”

Halak signs with Habs

Jaroslav Halak is officially a Montreal Canadiens goaltender.

The former Lewiston Maineiacs netminder, who was drafted in the ninth round by Montreal in 2003, inked a three-year, two-way deal with the Canadiens Thursday. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“He made a remarkable impression in his first season in North America,” Montreal general manager Bob Gainey said of Halak’s signing. “He has an excellent work ethic and could become an excellent goaltender in the years to come.”

Last year, Halak went 24-17-4 with the Maineiacs in the regular season and went 4-4 in the playoffs, including a sweep of Shawinigan during which Halak allowed just 1.74 goals per game and had a .944 save percentage.

The two-way deal means Halak can play in either the AHL or in the NHL, and will likely start in Hamilton of the AHL this season.

Maple Leafs sign Lindros to one-year deal

TORONTO – Eric Lindros admits he is not the player he once was.

But even after eight concussions, he thinks he has plenty left to offer the Toronto Maple Leafs.

General manager John Ferguson is giving Lindros that opportunity and taking a chance by agreeing to a one-year deal worth $1.55 million with the hulking forward.

“I don’t think you can run around and crash and bang quite the way that I might have done in the past,” Lindros said. “Hopefully, I’m a little older and a little wiser. There’s always risk. But I’m going to come in and play hard.” I want to come in and contribute.”

The shoulder injury that limited Lindros to 39 games with the New York Rangers the last time there was an NHL season is completely healed, he said.

He’s been skating for four weeks, practicing yoga with Leafs enforcer Tie Domi, and weighing in at slightly more than 250 pounds.

“I generally play at about 244 so I’ve got a little bit to lose so I’ll see you in a month,” he said with a smile.

He wasn’t reluctant to discuss his many concussions – and mostly joked about the hits to the head.

“I still have a lot to give,” he said. “I’m really working at stickhandling with my head up.”

Lindros nearly joined the Leafs four years ago, but a trade from Philadelphia collapsed at the last minute. Now the Ontario native is finally on the team for which he’s always wanted to play.

When Ferguson handed him a dark blue home jersey with No. 88 on the back, Lindros remarked that it must be “a little dusty.”


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.