As for the present, it’s fun asking which would be the choice if one were starting a team from scratch?
If in reality such a decision had to made, it would be the greatest can’t-lose proposition in the history of hockey. The possibility of being wrong would not exist.
For me to make such a tough call I have to go to the sixth or seventh tiebreaker and that’s where it comes down to the positions they play. Crosby’s a center and Ovechkin’s a winger and given equal or near equal ability and talent, I would always take a center over a winger so it’s Sid the Kid over Alexander the Great
At the center of the debate
I should qualify my choice in this matter by saying that strictly from a hockey standpoint as a general manager I’d go with Crosby. But if I was a GM who also took marketing into consideration the call would be Ovechkin because while both superstars are tremendously appealing to fans, Ovechkin may well put more people in seats. Crosby has a lot of the same magnetism Ovechkin does, but the Russian just seems to take that magnetism to an unbelievable level.
While it could be claimed Ovechkin rates a slight edge in drawing power, on the ice it’s a slim advantage for Crosby since a center is a puck distributor and given that he plays in all corners of the rink he winds up with the puck on his stick more than wingers do. Therefore because of the nature of the position, a center has a greater opportunity to make his teammates better and Crosby is so superb at doing just that.
Centers think about passing as much as they do about scoring. In Crosby’s case he has an incredible hunger to score, but he is always checking for a better scoring option than his taking a shot. As should be expected, Ovechkin being a winger who is counted on to score has only one thing in mind when on the ice – putting the puck in the net. It’s no surprise then that this season he led the league with 65 goals -- an NHL record for left wings. Crosby’s offensive abilities are also worth raving about and they carried him to the NHL scoring title last season.
Different ways of speaking volumes
Crosby has been the hardest worker in practice ever since he turned pro. He knows what his capabilities are and is always exploring the outer boundaries of those capabilities without ever seeming to go over the edge. He has a great sense of his place in the sport and understands his impact yet never oversteps his bounds. Even though Crosby is just 20, he is a perfect fit as the Penguins’ captain and is clearly the team’s leader
The NHL has many quiet leaders who through their work ethic lead by example. Crosby gives no ground to any player when it comes to having an outstanding work ethic, but he complements that element of his leadership with being extremely vocal – on the bench, on the ice, and in the locker room. He has a great sense of when it’s time for him to speak up and get the attention of his teammates.
Despite his youth he does not shy away from having tough conversations with teammates -- even veteran teammates -- when he feels such talks are needed. He can be counted on to verbally deliver the messages that have to get to teammates at certain times in games or in the season. There’s wisdom involved in doing that effectively and make no mistake Crosby is very wise – his wisdom is the one thing that’s underestimated about him.
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PHT: Detroit scored four unanswered goals to top Chicago 4-1 on Saturday. The Western semifinals are now level at one game apiece. Game 3 is on Monday at 7:30 p.m. ET.
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