The Myth of Sidney Crosby: The “Next” One.
Let’s see. I initially took an interest in hockey back in ‘09 so I was… 12 years old. I’m 19 now. What grabbed my attention you ask? It’s pretty simple. One man. He goes by the name of Sidney Patrick Crosby, better know as Sidney Crosby BKA Sid the Kid AKA The Next One. The rest is history.
He just stood out from the rest. When 87 stepped on the ice and started to skate, it just seemed like the game came easy to him. Gliding past defensemen like they were pylon cones.
Vision? To be quite honest, I’m convinced he has eyes in the back of his head. No one in the game sets up their teammates the way Sid does.
Shooting? Just another aspect of the game where Crosby is dominant. I don’t necessarily believe he’s the best pure goal scorer in the league per se (that title belongs to Ovechkin, Stamkos, Kane, or Tavares in my opinion), but he is among the best.
Stick handling? It’s not flashy but it’s quick. decisive. and magical. Few in the league have hands like Sid the Kid.
Now, when you take these four facets of the game, you get the most skilled and talented player in the world. And, it’s not even close.
Notice I said SKILLED not TWO-WAY, but even on both sides of the puck (offense and defense) Crosby is elite. His defensive skill are the most underrated aspect of his game. These past Finals proved that, as he managed to affect all phases of the game, especially on the defensive side.
Critics, naysayers, haters, whatever you would like to call them, have tried to argue that players like Toews or Ovechkin are better than Crosby.
Well, I’m here to dispel that notion and I will tell you exactly why.
Crosby versus Toews
Sidney Crosby and Jonathan Toews share a few things in common. Both are natives from Canada, captains of their respective teams, winners of the Conn Smythe trophy (MVP of their team in the playoffs), and members of the Triple Gold Club (players who have won the Stanley Cup, an Olympic gold medal, and a World Championship gold medal).
What they do not share is the same level of talent.
Toews has tallied 564 points (251 G, 323 A) in 645 games during the regular season. Crosby, on the other hand, has produced 938 points (338 G, 600 A) in 707 games during the regular season.
You do the math.
If my calculations are correct though, Toews has a .87 PPG average while Crosby has a 1.33 PPG. Basically, Crosby gets more than a point a game while Toews does not.
Playoffs? When it matters most? Crosby still edges out his fellow countryman with a 1.10 PPG average as opposed to Toews .87 average, yet again.
Stanley Cup titles are in Toews favor though. He has 3 while Crosby has 2. But, if I’m not mistaken, Stanley Cup titles aren’t necessarily dependent on one man, but instead a whole team.
There is no doubt that Toews has been surrounded by better talent throughout his career (Kane, Hossa, Keith, and Seabrook among others) and has benefited from the great mind of coach Joel Quenneville (4 titles of his own and 2nd in total wins for a coach).
As opposed to Crosby, who does have a dynamic playmaker in Evgeni Malkin and solid defenseman Kris Letang at his disposal, but that’s about it. He has been the spark and fuel that has elevated the games of players like Chris Kunitz and former teammate James Neal. And now more recently, the rebirth of American Phil Kessel.
Yes, Toews is a phenomenal leader and arguably the best in the league, but I think it says a lot when the captain of the National team (a team consisting of the best Canadian players in the world) is none other than Sidney Crosby. A title given to him by higher ups in the program. A team he captained in both the 2010, 2014 Olympics, 2015 World Championships, and 2016 World Cup of Hockey- all events where Canada won gold in. Some leader 87 must be huh?
Crosby versus Ovechkin
Alexander the Great and Sid the Kid. Forever linked since they both entered the league as #1 picks in the ‘04 and ‘05 drafts respectively. Both tasked with the somewhat impossible of being the successor to the Great One, Wayne Gretzky.
Yet, they’ve taken two completely different paths in terms of achieving success.
Crosby edges out Ovechkin with a 1.33 PPG in the regular season; Ovechkin is at 1.15.
Ovechkin is a:
- 3-time Hart Memorial trophy winner (League MVP).
- 1-time Art Ross trophy (league leader in points).
- 6-time Richards trophy winner (league leader in goals).
Impressive you say?
Crosby is a:
- 2-time Hart Memorial trophy winner
- 2-time Art Ross trophy winner
- 1-time Richards trophy winner
- 1-time Conn Smythe trophy winner (playoffs MVP).
The clear disparity is the goal scoring between the two, which is in Ovechkin’s favor no doubt, but that doesn’t necessarily make him the better overall player.
You take away Ovechkin’s goal scoring ability? He’s basically an one dimensional player; has no impact on other phases of the game. A fact backed up by Ovechkin’s -35 plus/minus rating back in the 2014 season.
You take away Crosby’s goal scoring ability? He’s gonna find other ways to dominate the game. He’s been said to be too unselfish at times. This just happens to be his greatest strength though. He picks you apart by creating the play for his teammates, and if you bite too much, well then prepare for him to go ape shit and score like a man possessed.
Both are phenomenal talents who are clearly the two most decorated players of their generation.
There are TWO halves to every season. The regular season and then comes the postseason.
Crosby has been nothing short of dominant and reliable when the playoffs come around.
With a 1.10 PPG in the playoffs, he ranks #12 and is the ONLY active player to crack the top 15 of all-time, trailing names like Gretzky, Lemieux, Messier, Bossy, and etc.
Ovechkin, on the other hand, has somewhat disappeared when the stage gets brightest.
Both on the professional and international stage.
He has a .97 PPG in the playoffs, which isn’t necessarily bad, but it’s certainly below the standards for a player of his caliber. Especially, a player who wants to be considered among the GREATS.
At the end of the day, he’s a Captain, and a great Captain is supposed to lead his troops to glory, in this case: the Stanley Cup AND International trophies. Not only has Ovechkin failed to do so , he also has never made it out of the second round of the NHL playoffs his entire career.
Crosby has won almost every award and won on every stage known to a hockey player while Ovechkin has not.
This might have been a fairly reasonable debate in the beginning stages of their careers, but Sid has proved time and time again that he’s the better player, better leader, and better winner over the years.
Crosby has what Ovechkin is chasing for.
It pains me that I didn’t get to touch on the Golden Goal, but the story of Sidney Crosby has yet to be fully written. This is just the beginning. More to come.