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Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Crosby just a normal guy in Stockholm


STOCKHOLM -- The news on Sergei Gonchar (out four to six months) put a bit of a damper on things here today, but the Pittsburgh Penguins still tried to keep it light. The team organized a city-wide scavenger hunt a la "The Amazing Race." I'll have more on that later today in my afternoon blog.

Yesterday, the team also visited the Vasa Museum.

"That was cool," Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby said today. "I'm a bit of a history buff anyway. It was pretty neat."

So they're getting a good look at one of the world's most beautiful cities.

"It's a nice spot," said Crosby. "We've been to the old town and pretty much around the city."

Unlike at home, Crosby can play the tourist here without too much fan recognition.

"It hasn't been that bad," said Crosby. "A few people, but nothing major. I'm able to walk around pretty easily. It's nice to be able to hang around the guys a little bit more. Usually when guys are doing things, depending where they go, it's not always an easy situation. But here, it's easier."

I remember being on Crosby's first NHL road trip to Western Canada last November. Most of the nights in Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver, he was holed up in his hotel room eating dinner by himself while his teammates were out on the town. That's the downside when you're the face of the game. At least here in Stockholm, he's able to relax a little with his teammates.

I should also mention that Penguins part-owner Mario Lemieux has made the trip here.

Crosby's new linemate
For all you poolies out there, it looks as though Penguins coach Michel Therrien is going to keep Ruslan Fedotenko on Crosby's line alongside Miroslav Satan. Therrien put Fedotenko there in the place of Pascal Dupuis during Friday's preseason game in Toronto. And the change stuck at yesterday's practice (they didn't skate today).

Therrien indicated the line would at least stay together for Thursday's game with Jokerit in Helsinki, but I suspect you'll see the line stay together for the start of the season this weekend, as well. Fedotenko, who scored the Cup-winning goal for Tampa Bay in 2004, has more offensive upside than Dupuis, a terrific defensive forward.

Stargazing ...
Neither Sid the Kid nor Super Mario is the biggest name in town. Last night, I was at an establishment enjoying a diet cola when none other than Adrian Grenier showed up with, well, his real-life entourage. The star of HBO's "Entourage" was polite when our group asked him if he was going to this weekend's Senators-Penguins game, saying he thought he'd be gone by then and that he'd never seen a hockey game before. C'mon, Adrian -- you grew up in New York!

Swedish scouting
Last night, Penguins GM Ray Shero took the opportunity to check out Swedish phenom Victor Hedman live in action. Hedman's team, MODO, lost 5-4 to Brynas IF, but he chipped in with two assists.

The 6-foot-7 defenseman, who doesn't turn 18 until December, is expected to challenge Ontario Hockey League star forward John Tavares for the first overall pick in next June's NHL draft.

"He's good, he's excellent," Shero said of Hedman. "He's a real big kid that has exceptional hockey sense. He's playing against men, players with way more experience, but he looks really good out there.

"Whoever gets this kid is going to be real fortunate that he's going to be manning their blue line for a very long time. It was fun to watch to him."

Of course, that very likely won't be Pittsburgh. A lottery pick isn't in the cards for the contending Penguins. "I hope not!" laughed Shero.