I know, I know. This subject has been beaten to death.
Who is better: Sid the Kid or Alexander the GR8?
Everyone and their mother has touched base on this subject, but it usually only boils down to one or two points.
Today, I'm going to break this down in a tale-of-the-tape fashion with each player's strengths, weaknesses, and intangibles. What that means in comparison to each other and in the big scope of things.
And who, in my opinion only, is the better of the two—both now and in the future.
Strengths: Lightning quick on his skates, he can get from zero to 60 as quick as anyone. He starts and stops on a dime, changing directions quickly and without wasted motion.
His hands may be unmatched. He can bury it from anywhere on the ice with a precision slap shot and the best wrist shot in the game. His one-timer may also be the best in the league at this point, releasing it from anywhere.
His frame also allows him to throw his weight around and he can become a physical force when he so desires. He's not afraid to mix it up at any given time and can dominate a game without it being noticed on the score sheet.
Intangibles: He's as passionate as anyone in the league, celebrating every goal like it may very well be his last. He also possesses a hunger to score unlike anyone else in the league. You can bet that 65 goals were nowhere near enough to satisfy him.
Despite the obvious language barrier, he's very charismatic and out-going. If he were Canadian, there is no doubt he would be the face of the game. He's still one of the pillars of the league, so he's not far off.
Weakness: He can be taken off of his game when he's physically challenged and disrupted. He can be coaxed into a shoving match and may take a few careless penalties.
Another thing to consider in the long run is his physical style. Now, the two are very different players, but the best comparison I can make is to Peter Forsberg. Forsberg was one of the premier players in the world for nearly a decade, but his physical style took a toll on his body and his career is now in it's twilight at age 35. Just something to consider with Ovechkin.
Strengths: Crosby's vision is unmatched. He sees the play develop two steps ahead of everyone else and has an uncanny knack to find the seams that don't appear to be there.
He is arguably the most fundamentally sound player in the game, doing every little thing precisely the way it should, from his passing to dropping to a knee to take a one-timer on the short side.
His passing is rivaled by few in the game. Joe Thornton and Pavel Datsyuk are the only players in the league who can make a comparable pass. He may not put as many goals on the board as Ovechkin, but he'll no doubt have many more assists and make his presence felt, whether he gets on the score sheet or not.
Skating is an underrated part of his game. He's deceptively fast and very strong on his skates. He may not beat Ovechkin in a foot race, but he's no slouch.
While he may not score like Ovechkin, he possesses an underrated shot and will be a consistent 35-40-goal player in the league. One could argue that Ovechkin gets as many goals as he does not only from his shot, but the fact that he's consistently near the top of the shots chart.
Intangibles: Crosby has a maturity about him that is rare. He's been dealing with stardom since his youth days and more than knows how to handle himself. He's the poster-boy for the new NHL and is a kid with a pronounceable name and young face that can pull in the casual fan.
He's also a natural leader, taking the team on his shoulders at such a young age and making it his own.
Weaknesses: His frame is on the small side, so he will need a bit of luck to stay healthy. His smarts and quickness can only take him so far.
He may also be developing a mentality of expecting to draw a penalty whenever he pleases. He's garnered a reputation as a diver in his short time in the league—something that doesn't exactly endear him to the die-hards.
Sid has also gotten a bit cheap when things get chippy. He's sweared and slashed on occasion—something he needs to keep in check, especially in big moments.
So, who is the best and why?
The long and short of it is this: as a player, it's almost impossible to say one is better because they play different styles.
Ovechkin plays at 100mph, firing shots from anywhere and everywhere. Crosby is the more cerebral of the two, setting up shop and making plays when there are none available.
For my money, I'd take Crosby because he makes plays out of nothing and, when he's not scoring goals, he sets them up routinely. His vision is enough to put him ahead of Ovechkin.
Being a natural born leader only makes him look that much better.
From an overall standpoint, Crosby gets the edge because of his marketability. He is the face of the NHL, for better or worse. Ovechkin is someone that can be marketed, and very well at that, but he can't compare to the soft-spoken, friendly Canadian boy who is available to anyone and everyone.
In the long run, you have to ask yourself: "Who has the better career when it's all said and done?"
All factors considered, the answer to that question is Crosby.
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