Arguably the faces of the league as well as a pair of the top players in the world, It has been a very cliche question since they were drafted first overall in the 2004 and 2005 NHL drafts. Who is better, Sidney Crosby or Alex Ovechkin?
Thanks to the NHL’s 2004-05 lockout, both played their rookie season during the same year. Crosby only 18 years of age and Ovechkin 20. At the end of the season Crosby became the youngest NHL player to record 100 points, totalling 102. Ovechkin finished with 106 and was given the Calder Memorial Trophy for the league’s rookie of the year. Going into the season there was already debate on who is and later would become the better player. Both are edging towards 30 years of age and now is a great time to take a moment and get to the bottom of who can be considered better.
Ovechkin positives: The easy argument is that Ovechkin is a natural born goal scorer. So far having four Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophies, given to the player with the most goals in the league. At the end of the 2013-14 season he had 422 goals and never going a season under 30 goals. What makes Ovechkin a great player is how he does not have that great of a team surrounding him in Washington. How Washington makes the playoffs year in and out is thanks to “The Great 8,” and his consistency to score and put up big numbers. Very rarely will you see Ovechkin on an injured reserve. He is a tough guy who throws his body around a lot but is resilient enough to suck up hits like a sponge and walk away and continue to play hard, rarely missing games. He has so much passion for the game, with visible excitement after every goal he and his teammates score.
Negatives: Points and scoring are the only driving factor that make Ovechkin viable as the better player. He has not hoisted Lord Stanley’s Cup or been on the podium with an Olympic medal around his neck. A huge part of the game is defence, something you will rarely see Ovechkin playing. He finished last season a -35, third worst in the NHL. Many people call him arrogant and rarely passes the puck to his teammates, and that is an unfair assumption to make but he proves it by having nearly 50 more goals than assists in his career. Yes, almost 900 points after ten seasons looks good but no ones likes a teammate who is not a team player.
Crosby positives: One word, success. Crosby may not put up the same numbers as Ovechkin but Crosby has a lot more “hardware” if you will. Since Crosby has entered the league he has racked up two Art Ross Trophies, three Ted Lindsay Awards, two Heart Trophies, a “Rocket” Richard of his own, a Stanley Cup and two Olympic gold medals. Yes, Ovechkin may have a few of those awards as well but the big ones that stand out are the Stanley Cup and Gold Medals. Crosby has two Olympic golds while Ovechkin is yet to achieve even a bronze. Playoffs are a huge part of both player’s careers. Crosby may be getting criticized for not having the best postseasons as of late but still has almost twice as many playoff points than Ovechkin has. Crosby is also known by many, and has been for a long time, as the face of the NHL. After so much hype with him coming into the league as an 18 year old and playing alongside one of the greatest of all time, Mario Lemieux, it was expected Crosby was going to be the next Lemieux. So far so good.
Negatives: It is hard to find a time when Crosby is not suffering from an injury. Being seen as the best in the NHL puts a huge target on his back. Not only for the goons who take a shot at him every chance they get but also the top defenders in the league who have a job to make sure he stays off of the score sheet. He may make defenders look silly on a regular basis and an unstoppable backhand but Crosby is not stranger to being out due to injury. Who is to say Crosby might have more points than Ovechkin for a career if Crosby had not missed some of the 2007-08 season with a broken ankle and large portions of the 2010-11 and 2011-12 season with a bad concussion. Crosby also has a problem with consistency. Going on dry streaks with scoring often, not something that should happen if he wants to continue to win. Thankfully Crosby has a great team around him.
Both players have their minds set to win no matter what. Winning is the most important. Before both of them were drafted, the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins were two of the worst teams in the league, since then they are both top powerhouse teams year after year. Who is the better player, though? Not only as a hardcore Penguin fan, but also a true hockey fan, I would have to say that Crosby is the better player. Yes, Ovechkin has the better stats but success is what sells in hockey.