As the NHL season gets closer, all the talking and hype is about Connor Bedard. The generational talent will soon play his first-ever NHL game since getting drafted as the first overall by the Chicago Blackhawks earlier this summer. Bedard has already displayed some of what he can do on the ice in pre-season games, and the hockey world seems to agree: He’s looking sharp.
There have been a few years since there was this much hype around a rookie, but Bedard deserves it, and he’s projected to record somewhere around 90 points this season, which would be just mind-blowing numbers from a rookie, in a team that many predict not to make it to the playoffs.
Someone who knows what it’s like being a hyped prospect heading into his first NHL season is Sidney Crosby. The future Hall of Famer was drafted first overall in the 2005 draft, and he went on to score 102 points in his rookie season. Now a veteran, Crosby has some tips to share with Connor Bedard. The first one is to enjoy it and really let it all sink in.
“Just enjoy it,” Crosby said, per Pittsburgh Hockey Now. “I still remember so much of my first year, all these years later. Going into buildings for the first time, cities. Playing against guys every night that you were watching the year before. You get up for that challenge, but also, you want to enjoy it, because you only have that first year once, and there’s so much that’s so cool about it. He’s going to want to do well, but (he should) try to enjoy it as much as he can.”
One thing that Crosby regrets from his rookie year was that he said ’yes’ to everything.
“Maybe I would have said ‘No,’ a little bit more,” Crosby said. “There were a lot of demands, as far as interviews. You become pretty busy, not just on the ice, but off the ice. You put a lot of pressure on yourself, as it is. He’s got a lot of pressure, but I’m sure he puts a lot on himself. That’s probably the pressure that he feels the most.
“Just finding a way to manage that, but you don’t really know until you go through it, It’s easy to say that, all these years later. Maybe I would have said ‘No’ a little bit more and had some more time just to not be as hectic that first year, but it’s easier said than done sometimes.”
Sidney Crosby seems impressed with how well Bedard’s handling everything. And he’s sure that Bedard will succeed in the NHL.
“I think he’s a mature kid,” Crosby said. “He’s been under the spotlight for a while now. I think he’s handled it really well. He’s confident in his ability. Every time he’s been challenged or there’s been pressure on him, I think he’s always raised his level. It’s been impressive to see the way he’s handled himself.”