Dan's Take hockey guru/anti-white activist Dan Innamorato is back with his thoughts on the Alexander Ovechkin/Sidney Crosby rivalry. Of course, their teams will meet in Eastern Conference semifinals beginning this weekend in what should be the most watched hockey series since the Gretzky era.
Personally, I think the league loves Crosby because it needs a true North American star that can serve as the English-speaking spokesperson for the league, but Ovechkin is the one that can truly change the game. It's that old school vs new school argument. Crosby "plays the game right" while Ovechkin is the guy who celebrates empty netters. In my opinion, the exciting, flashy players are the type of guys Americans embrace nowadays and Ovechkin fits that role perfectly...
Sports fans love rivalries between players. Magic vs. Bird. DiMaggio vs. Williams. Federer vs. Nadal. T.O. vs. His Quarterbacks. Tiger vs. The Field.
Now it’s time to get ready for the next great rivalry in sports: Alexander Ovechkin vs. Sidney Crosby. I know, I know…you’ve heard this before. The NHL has been desperately trying to promote a rivalry between these two players ever since they entered the league. However, what began as manufactured hype by the NHL has recently evolved into legitimate bad blood between them. Crosby and Ovechkin got into a minor scuffle earlier this year, and they’ve exchanged verbal jabs at one another since. Crosby’s teammate, Evgeni Malkin, widely considered to be the third best player in the NHL, also doesn’t care too much for Ovechkin. Their mutual dislike stems from an incident in 2007, where Ovechkin reportedly broke the jaw of Malkin’s agent during a fight in a Moscow nightclub.
For the casual hockey fan, there are two questions you might be asking yourself before Crosby’s Penguins get set to take on Ovechkin’s Capitals in the second round of the NHL playoffs: Which player is better and which should you be rooting for?
In terms of who is better, it’s difficult to compare two players with different styles. Crosby is more of a playmaker and distributor, while Ovechkin prefers to dangle and snipe. They each produce similar point totals, with Ovechkin scoring more goals and Crosby tallying more assists. In my opinion, a player who can consistently score 50-60 goals per season (Ovechkin) is more valuable than a player who can notch 70 assists (Crosby), simply because two assists can be given for each goal, and assists can be lucky or undeserved more often than goals. There are also many conspiracy theorists who claim that Crosby gets credit for “phantom” assists in an ongoing effort by the NHL to pad his stats and boost his marketability.
Statistics and conspiracy theories aside, I’ve watched these players often since they’ve entered the league, and I’d give the edge to Ovechkin at this point. Oh, and by the way, if either of them played during Gretzky’s era of no defense and horrible goaltenders with toothpick pads, they would have easily shattered his records. Yeah, I said it.
As far as who you should be rooting for, this answer is easy: Ovechkin. The guy is nonstop entertainment, whether it’s his YouTube sensation goals or equally entertaining interviews. Have you ever heard other hockey players during an interview? “You know, uh, we just want to, uh, go out there and uh, work hard, you know. And, uh, you know, hopefully some pucks will, you know, uh, bounce our way.” Ovie gives you honest, witty thoughts in broken English with a hilarious, Ivan Drago-esque Russian accent to boot (check out the second half of this excellent ESPN E:60 Interview). He celebrates every goal like his team just won the Stanley Cup, and his exuberance is infectious.
When the Capitals knocked my New York Rangers out of the playoffs, a small part of me was consoled by the fact that I would be able to keep watching Ovechkin for at least one more series (this was after I smashed the remote against the wall, but still). Crosby, on the other hand, has a reputation among players for being a crybaby and a diver. Ovechkin’s nickname is even better than Crosby’s….Alexander the Gr8 vs. Sid the Kid? No contest.
You’re probably going to hear a lot of talk in the coming days that this series will ultimately decide which player is better. I’m here to tell you that it would be ridiculous to judge them on their playoff success this early in their careers (of course this doesn’t stop ESPN from piling on Tony Romo, but that’s a story for another day). This series is simply one of the early chapters in what all sports fans should hope will be a long rivalry between young players with the potential to be two of the best to ever lace up a pair of skates.