Hockey's New Phenom May Be 'Starstruck,' Briefly

Connor Bedard, under big pressure with Chicago, debuts against Sidney Crosby of the Penguins
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 10, 2023 10:35 AM CDT
Hockey's New Phenom Debuts Against His Idol
Connor Bedard responds to questions from reporters in Kamloops, British Columbia, on June 3.   (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)

The NHL season begins Tuesday, and one game in particular is especially fitting: The Chicago Blackhawks play the Pittsburgh Penguins. Chicago has an 18-year-old named Connor Bedard making his NHL debut, and the teen is heralded as a generational player on par with superstar Sidney Crosby of the Penguins, who's twice his age. It is, notes the Athletic, the "new kid" vs. the "old 'Kid,'" a reference to Crosby's "Sid the Kid" NHL nickname since 2005. "I mean, obviously, it's a huge honor to have my name in the same sentence ... but I'm Connor Bedard, I'm not someone else," says the teenager. "So I'm trying to create my own path and be the best player I can be and not try to compare myself to other guys."

Still, he acknowledges he might be "starstuck"—temporarily—when taking the ice against his childhood idol, per the AP. Bedard is under a ton of pressure to resurrect a once-strong Chicago team, and season-ticket sales (along with sales of his No. 98 jersey) have spiked since he was drafted. The 36-year-old Crosby has spent a bit of time with Bedard and understands the pressure. "You can relate to what he's going through, what he's feeling," he tells the Athletic. "I don't know everything going through his mind, but I do know the situations and challenges and everything that comes with that." (More Sidney Crosby stories.)

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