Jim Souhan: Crosby has Lemaire searching for superlatives

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 31, 2007 - 12:01 AM

The Penguins phenom came back to Minnesota and had the Wild coach wishing there were two of him ... one in a home uniform.

Jacques Lemaire is as masterful with understatement as he is with the neutral-zone trap.

With a French-Canadian lilt that transforms Marian Gaborik into "Mary-Ann," and the ability to invert sentences like Yoda, the Wild coach offers insights and hockey philosophy in a soft-spoken tone that makes listeners lean forward in anticipation.

Tuesday morning, Lemaire raved about Penguins phenom and Shattuck-St. Mary's product Sidney Crosby. Tuesday night, Lemaire watched Crosby become the third opponent ever to score four points at Xcel Energy Center, in Pittsburgh's 4-2 victory.

Lemaire praised Wes Walz's checking line for its defense on Crosby -- even though Crosby's line produced nine points.

The performance left Lemaire feeling covetous. "I'd love to have one on our club," he said of Crosby, "if they make any more."

Crosby's first two points were the product of scorer's luck -- being in position to benefit from a fortuitous bounce to teammate Evgeni Malkin. His next two points were the product of a scorer's skill -- putting a power-play pass onto the tape of Petr Sykora in the slot, and putting on a burst of speed to create a breakaway goal.

After the game, Crosby, who played in front of high school coach Tom Ward and a few friends, said he and Malkin, his Russian linemate and fellow phenom, are learning to play together.

Lemaire would probably appreciate the understatement. "We're still trying to communicate a little better," Crosby said. "I think once we do that, we'll improve. But hockey is the universal language sometimes."

Crosby is as fluent as he is fluid. "I think he handles himself probably the best I've seen," Lemaire said. "The best, for sure, as a kid, 18, 19, 20 years old."

Lemaire played on legendary teams. He has been employed by teams that have won 11 Stanley Cups. He is uninterested in hype, as the NHL tries to market Crosby, with good reason, as the next Gretzky or Lemieux.

Still, Lemaire raved. "He's among the top players, there's no doubt," Lemaire said. "And he will be the top player. I think he is right now, in the National Hockey League.

"It's hard to compare, because you look at his size, there were players of his size [in the past]. But work like he works, they will not."

This would have been a more entertaining and meaningful test had the Wild been at full strength. Marian Gaborik, Pavol Demitra and Niklas Backstrom are three of the four or five most important Wild players, and they were all out Tuesday because of apparently contagious groin injuries.

Without star power, the Wild tried to match up defensively with Crosby and Malkin, but discovered that the two scorers are strong on the puck and tough around the net.

Does someone of Lemaire's era compare to Crosby? "Probably, they have the same talent, but they were different," Lemaire said. "He's the perfect kid you want on your team. He's an example. He's young and he's got, it seems, the experience to be a leader on his team because of his work ethic.

"I can't compare him to any of the players I've seen in the past."

Was he aware of Crosby when he played at Shattuck-St. Mary's? "I heard his name," Lemaire said. "But I had to see it."

Thanks to the silliness of NHL scheduling, Crosby had to wait three seasons into his NHL career to make his return to Minnesota, and who knows when he'll return?

Tuesday, at least, Lemaire and Minnesota's hockey fans got an eyeful of Sid the Kid.

Jim Souhan can be heard Sundays from 10 a.m.-noon on AM-1500 KSTP. jsouhan@startribune.com

  • related content

  • Penguins stars as good as advertised vs. Wild

    Tuesday October 30, 2007

    The fans at Xcel Energy Center got their first look at Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in person, and the Penguins young stars did not disappoint, but the Wild did.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

NY Mets - B. Colon 6:05 PM
Washington - T. Roark
Baltimore - U. Jimenez 6:05 PM
NY Yankees - B. McCarthy
Kansas City - Y. Ventura 6:05 PM
Cleveland - D. Salazar
Seattle - F. Hernandez 6:07 PM
Toronto - R. Dickey
Chicago WSox - S. Carroll 6:08 PM
Detroit - D. Price
Philadelphia - C. Hamels 6:10 PM
Miami - H. Alvarez
Pittsburgh - G. Cole 6:10 PM
Atlanta - A. Wood
Milwaukee - M. Fiers 6:10 PM
Cincinnati - J. Cueto
Tampa Bay - A. Cobb 6:10 PM
Boston - C. Buchholz
Houston - B. Oberholtzer 7:05 PM
Texas - N. Martinez
St. Louis - S. Miller 7:05 PM
Chicago Cubs - K. Hendricks
Arizona - A. Chafin 7:10 PM
Minnesota - K. Gibson
LA Angels - W. LeBlanc 9:05 PM
Oakland - S. Gray
San Francisco - M. Bumgarner 9:10 PM
Los Angeles - Z. Greinke
Colorado - J. De La Rosa 9:10 PM
San Diego - R. Erlin
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
Buffalo 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Green Bay 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Tennessee 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Carolina 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Detroit 9/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
Tampa Bay 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Miami 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Oakland
Jacksonville 9/28/14 3:05 PM
San Diego
Atlanta 9/28/14 3:25 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 9/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
New Orleans 9/28/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
New England 9/29/14 7:30 PM
Kansas City
Carolina 6:00 PM
Buffalo
Pittsburgh 6:00 PM
Columbus
Boston 6:30 PM
Montreal
Nashville 6:30 PM
Tampa Bay
Philadelphia 6:30 PM
Toronto
Detroit 7:30 PM
Chicago
San Jose 8:00 PM
Vancouver
Arizona 9:00 PM
Anaheim
Vancouver 9:30 PM
San Jose
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(24) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(11) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(25) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(12) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Kentucky
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(9) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Indiana
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Virginia
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Louisville
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
UAB
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
NC State
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
California
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Kansas
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Connecticut
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
Washington
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(22) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(13) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
North Carolina 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Clemson
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
ULM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(17) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Duke 9/27/14 6:30 PM
Miami-Florida
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Utah
(8) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Syracuse
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(21) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(18) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Winnipeg
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
Calgary

ADVERTISEMENT

Advertisement
Golden Gavel by Star Tribune

Time left for great deals

Bid thru Sept. 29

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Which struggling team is in the worst shape?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close