The Mellon Arena will host the matchup between the Pens plus Sidney Crosby, and the Habs plus ... Guillaume Latendresse.
If you are trying to find out what is wrong with that sentence, let’s go back in time to solve this nonsense.
It is the 2003 QMJHL’s entry draft. The Rimouski Oceanic selects for first overall a 5' 11" center who previously set a record of 72 goals and 110 assists in 57 games in Minnesota. The Oceanic picks Sidney Crosby.
The second pick went to the Drummondville Voltigeurs who picked a 6' 2" native of Quebec, leader in goals and assists at his high school the previous season. Drummondville selects Guillaume Latendresse.
The following year, Crosby got 54 goals and 81 assists in just 59 games. On the other end, Latendresse posted 49 points in 53 appearances; but eventually managed 161 points in 116 games through the next two seasons.
Drummondville GM Michel Georges described him as a “franchise player”; while his coach, Dominic Ricard called him a “complete package”. In other words, he is the real deal, the icing on the cake, the must have, “THE” player; brief, you got my point.
The 2005 NHL Draft finally came.
Proud of his 303 points in 121 games during his two years with Rimouski, Crosby was drafted first overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins. Montreal first drafted Carey Price, then Latendresse as 45th overall.
Then Montreal started the Latendresse frenzy: The young French Canadian who was picked right after the famous Crosby in the QMJHL is now a Canadiens de Montreal .
Although he didn’t make the team right away, 2006 was his year of revelation. With five points in six preseason appearances, he earned a three-year contract with the team. He was among the very few players—in fact three—of the 2005 second round to make the NHL that year.
Although Latendresse was expected to become a local hero in Montreal, these past three seasons left many people sceptic about the 22-year-old right winger.
We have heard it all.
Tender doesn’t skate fast enough. Tender looks like he is carrying a bag of pucks on his back. Tender doesn’t hit enough. Tender doesn’t score enough. Tender slows down the plays. Tender looks lost... Tender doesn’t make the saves; oh wait, that is Price.
Even NHL Legend Patrick Roy criticized his arrival with the team, saying that the Habs only signed him to fill the French Canadian quota. On Latendresse’s first goal, Roy laughed “He finally touched the puck!”
The pressure on Latendresse’s shoulders might not be as much as, say what Carey Price has to endure as a goaltender; but as the number of French Canadian players quickly took its toll over the years, he sure was noticeable.
Coming into tonight’s game, he has 83 points in 220 regular season games; a bunch of fans and a bunch of haters, but that came with the territory. Sidney Crosby has 408 points in 301 and, well; a Stanley Cup.
And yes, those two actually got drafted on after the other in the QMJHL!
This is a new season, and so far he seems to be improving one game after the other; and has recently earned a spot on the second line against the New York Islanders.
But it sure has been a long way since the QMJHL’s draft day...
2005 Prospects at Hockeysfuture.com
Sidney Crosby’s biography at SidneyCrosbyfans.info