Thursday, November 03, 2005

Sidney Crosby Inspires the Next Generation

Generation Sid?

Is Sidney Crosby inspiring a new generation of Pittsburgh hockey players like Mario Lemieux did during his prime years?

From Joe Sager of

Sidney Crosby’s arrival in Pittsburgh will affect a lot more than wins and losses for the Penguins.

It could give them more Ryan Malones.

You see, Malone, a native of Upper St. Clair, is the only Pittsburgh-born player to skate for the Penguins. That could change, though. Crosby’s mere presence alone in the Steel City is sending more and more children to the rink.

“I think it’s going to be very huge. The numbers of the younger kids playing have sort of flat-lined in the past two or three years,” said Mark Shuttleworth, the Penguins’ director of amateur hockey. “Hockey, in general, was experiencing a bit of the doldrums with all the clutching and grabbing. Obviously, our franchise was experiencing a down period and youth hockey enrollments at the younger age groups were a little bit flat. I think this is going to be a huge shot in the arm for youth hockey in this region.”

When the Penguins drafted Mario Lemieux in 1984, youth hockey exploded in the Pittsburgh area. Interest and enrollments went through the roof when the Penguins won back-to-back Stanley Cups in 1991 and 1992. Malone was part of that generation.

“When Mario came and they won the Stanley Cups, more rinks were being built and it became more of a hockey town. Obviously, it’s a football town, but hockey gave it a little competition,” Malone said. “It made it more exciting and more fun for everybody. You saw a lot more kids playing street hockey. My friends and I, we’d play street hockey whenever we could. That’s what we had to do when there weren’t so many rinks. Now, hopefully, a lot of people come to the games and get excited about this team. I think the game will continue to grow.”

Full article here.

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