Pittsburgh PenguinsDownload App

Sidney Crosby vs. Mario Lemieux: Who's the Better All-Around Player?

Eron NoreContributor IIIJanuary 9, 2017

Sidney Crosby vs. Mario Lemieux: Who's the Better All-Around Player?

1 of 13

    PITTSBURGH - OCTOBER 07:  Team owner Mario Lemieux of the Pittsburgh Penguins drops the puck between Sidney Crosby #87 and Mike Richards #18 of the Philadelphia Flyers as NHL commissioner Gary Bettman looks on prior to the arena opening game  at the Conso
    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    The Boston Bruins won the Stanley Cup, there is still another week before the NHL Draft and even more time until free agency begins. This can be a boring time for hockey fans.

    So, how should we pass the time? I vote for speculation on comparison between eras! For a Penguins fan, what better pot-stirrer than comparing Mario Lemieux and Sidney Crosby?

    On the surface, it may seem silly. But consider the local media wondered aloud many times last season if Crosby's year would be considered along side of the greatest seasons in NHL history.

    A couple of blows to the head in January rendered it a moot point, but Crosby has compiled a pretty good resume so far. Many critics complain that he is the NHL's poster boy. But how does he stack up against a player who had the waiting period for the Hall of Fame waived?

    Is it a runaway for Le Magnifique or will Sid Vicious hold his own? There's only one way to find out, start the slideshow!

Who Is the Better Goal Scorer?

2 of 13

    Sidney Crosby: So far in his career, Crosby has averaged a goal every two games. In the post-lockout era, he has established himself as one of the deadliest goal scorers. Only one of six seasons has been below the 30-goal mark. Even more stunning is the fact that the sub-30 season was not his concussion-marred 2010-11 effort, but his 2007-08 campaign.

    His career has produced highlight reel goals of him batting pucks out of mid-air, sliding on his stomach to tap one in or heading into the middle of four defenders to flick a wrist shot by the goalie.

    Mario Lemieux: As the video above shows, in an era where obstruction was tolerated and encouraged, players still couldn't stop Lemieux. Grab him, hook him, tackle him—it never mattered.

    From the first shot on his first game through the last shot before his initial retirement, Lemieux filled the net with pucks. If there was any question he still had the ability upon his return in December 2000, he quickly calmed that by scoring in his return game. Lemieux is still ninth on the all-time goals list.

    Edge: Lemieux.

Who Is the Better Passer?

3 of 13

    14 Oct 1998:  Rightwinger Rob Brown #44 of the Pittsburgh Penguins looks on during the game against the New Jersey Devils at the Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Penguins defeated the Devils 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Al Bello  /
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Sidney Crosby: Sid routinely dangles with the puck to buy time and find players streaking to the net or posting up for a well-timed backdoor pass. He currently has three seasons with more than 60 assists and can find the smallest opening for a pass.

    Mario Lemieux: Aside from Lemieux's rank as a Top 10 all-time assist guy, it has often been joked in the Pittsburgh area that he could have turned a club sandwich in to a 20-goal scorer. If it got to the net, he would bank it in off the sandwich.

    His ability to draw defenders' attention allowed his linemates to clean up. For evidence, see Rob Brown's 49-goal season in 1988-89.

    Edge: Lemieux.

Who Makes Their Teammates Better?

4 of 13

    PITTSBURGH - APRIL 15:  Sidney Crosby #87 and Colby Armstrong #20 of the Pittsburgh Penguins check the overhead scoreboard during a break in game action of Game 3 against the Ottawa Senators in the 2007 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals at Mellon Arena on
    Harry How/Getty Images

    Sidney Crosby: Aside from a brief stint with Marian Hossa and the times he played with Evgeni Malkin, Crosby has found himself on a carousel of wingers. Chris Kunitz, Pascal Dupuis and Bill Guerin were all better for playing with Crosby.

    In the salary cap era, it is expected that Crosby will take guys and make them capable top line players. Still skeptical? Colby Armstrong skated with Crosby for the bulk of his time here.

    Mario Lemieux: While it is true that Lemieux made anyone that played with him better, he also benefited from better linemates over the course of the 1990s. Guys like Kevin Stevens and Rick Tocchet did not need help to be great goal scorers. Their numbers may have improved, but they were both solid goal scorers. 

    The fact remains that Mario Lemieux was such a great player that literally anybody could play alongside him. He could change his game to bring any player to his level.

    Edge: Lemieux.

Who Is the Better Leader?

5 of 13

    PHILADELPHIA - APRIL 11:  Referee Kerry Fraser #2 looks on during the game between the New York Rangers and the Philadelphia Flyers on April 11, 2010 at Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The game was Fraser's final game in the NHL as he is re
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Sidney Crosby: The "C" was placed on Crosby's sweater in 2007, when he was at the age of 20. At the time, some thought it was given to him because he was the team's most talented player, but not necessarily its best leader. While there have been ups (Stanley Cup win) and downs (team seeming to quit on Michel Therrien) during his tenure, if the true test of a captain is his teammates respect—Crosby passes the test with flying colors.

    Mario Lemieux: If we are using the respect of the players as the true test of a captain, Lemieux again passes the test. It is worth mentioning that Lemieux had trouble with coaches, much more so than Crosby. Many cite the "country club atmosphere" the team emanated in the 90s as a reason it didn't capture more Stanley Cup Championships.

    But, in terms of player respect, Lemieux was top notch. Former referee Kerry Fraser offers a tale worth reading about the respect his players had for him at http://www.tsn.ca/blogs/kerry_fraser/?id=368750

    Edge: Lemieux.

Who Is the Better Fighter?

6 of 13

    Sidney Crosby: Crosby has picked his spots to drop the mitts in his career, but he has held his own. Because of his concussions, it will probably be a very cold day before he engages in his next fight. Hockeyfights.com shows Crosby as having five career NHL fights, with a 4-1 record.

    Mario Lemieux: Lemieux had the size to not worry about his scraps, thought he did not regularly throw down. Hockeyfights.com lists him as having six career NHL fights. He is voted 2-0 in the fights that are ranked at the website.

    Edge: Let the controversy begin. Crosby.

Who Means More to the City?

7 of 13

    Sidney Crosby: Crosby quickly became the face of the franchise after being drafted with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 NHL Draft. His jersey can be spotted on just about every kid in town and even made a cameo on Jim Carrey's back in the film Mr. Popper's Penguins.

    Even better for parents is that Crosby is the quintessential role model off the ice. He purchased a charity suite at the Consol Energy Center and has countless other projects to use his status for good. It sure does not hurt that he produces on the ice as well.

    Mario Lemieux: How can you place a ranking on a man who has been attributed as saving the Pittsburgh Penguins on multiple occasions? Well, even though some of those saves have come after his playing days ended, this is still going to be Lemieux's category.

    The June 27, 2011 ESPN: The Magazine lists Lemieux as the fifth best "Ultimate Boss." One could write all month about the things Lemieux has done for charity. But to see one of the most touching endeavors, search the internet for information on the "Austin's Playroom" projects.

    Edge: Lemieux.

    Photo courtesy of mariolemieux.org

Who Trained Harder?

8 of 13

    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 5:  Sidney Crosby #87 (R) and trainer Steve Latin (L) of the Pittsburgh Penguins prepare Crosby's equipment for his first NHL game against the New Jersey Devils on October 5, 2005 at Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherf
    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    Sidney Crosby: Crosby has one of the strongest work ethics, according to teammates. They often comment on how remarkable it is for someone with his natural ability to train as hard as he does.

    Mario Lemieux: Lemieux did not train seriously until his return from retirement, by most accounts. Local media joked that in the early stages of his career, his idea of training was to "not order french fries" with his meals.

    Edge: Crosby.

Who Scored the Bigger International Goal?

9 of 13

    VANCOUVER, BC - FEBRUARY 28:  Sidney Crosby #87 of Canada poses for a photo after the ice hockey men's gold medal game between USA and Canada on day 17 of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics at Canada Hockey Place on February 28, 2010 in Vancouver, Canada.
    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    Sidney Crosby: 2010 Winter Olympics goal vs. USA...in overtime...to win the Gold Medal.

    Mario Lemieux: 1987 Canada Cup goal vs. USSR.

    Edge: Crosby.

Who Is Better at Media Relations?

10 of 13

    PITTSBURGH - MAY 20: Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins spreaks with the media follwoing practice at the Mellon Arena on May 20, 2009 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    Sidney Crosby: You never hear Sidney Crosby complain...about the media, I mean. (Calm down, Pens haters.) In every city, the media swarm him to ask the same questions over and over again. A trip through Canada for him is like when The Beatles came to America.

    Crosby is incredibly gracious in his dealings with the media. Many of the Pens haters will critique him for being the poster boy of the league, but few would deal with the intensity of the spotlight's glare as well as he does. 

    Mario Lemieux: Lemieux generally shies away from the media, even as an owner. In his prime, he was more than content to let Wayne Gretzky shoulder the burden of promotion for the NHL.

    Edge: Crosby.

Who Is More Durable?

11 of 13

    PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 08: Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins hits the ice against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wachovia Center on October 8, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    Sidney Crosby: Aside from a groin problem that occasionally flares, a broken foot, and a freak ankle injury, Crosby has been pretty durable in his NHL career. Last season cast some doubt on that, with his loss of half a season to concussion problems.

    Whether or not this issue will return is a story for another day. As of right now, he seems on track to return, so hopefully his health will remain.

    Mario Lemieux: The debate of Lemieux's place in history often is accompanied by the phrase "if he was healthy." Back problems, hip problems, Hodgin's Lymphoma and a heart condition are among the most serious of problems he experienced in his career.

    Edge: Crosby, as of right now.

Which Player Will Have the Greater Legacy?

12 of 13

    DETROIT - JUNE 12:  Mario Lemieux of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates with the Stanley Cup after defeating the Detroit Red Wings by a score of 2-1 to win Game Seven and the 2009 NHL Stanley Cup Finals at Joe Louis Arena on June 12, 2009 in Detroit, Mich
    Harry How/Getty Images

    Sidney Crosby: While much of Crosby's story is still to be written, he has an incredible resume at such a young age. His work ethic and dedication should serve him well as he adds to the pages already down in the book of hockey history.

    Mario Lemieux: One can debate Lemieux's place in history based on his raw talent. Many say that he should rank no lower than third in the all-time debate. My bias growing up watching him makes it tough for me to allow anyone but Gretzky the ability to pass him on such a list.

    Even then it would be done begrudgingly. Bottom line, Lemieux is one of the all-time greats in the sport of hockey.

    Edge: Lemieux.

Sidney Crosby vs. Mario Lemieux: Tale of the Tape

13 of 13

    PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 31:  Mario Lemieux #66 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates against the Washington Capitals during the 2011 NHL Winter Classic Alumni Game on December 31, 2010 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/G
    Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

    No disrespect to Crosby, but Lemieux edges him out six to five in my categories.

    Maybe someday the result will favor Crosby. But for now, Lemieux reigns supreme in the Pittsburgh hockey landscape.

Where can I comment?

Stay on your game

Latest news, insights, and forecasts on your teams across leagues.

Choose Teams
Get it on the App StoreGet it on Google Play

Real-time news for your teams right on your mobile device.

Download
Copyright © 2017 Bleacher Report, Inc. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. All Rights Reserved. BleacherReport.com is part of Bleacher Report – Turner Sports Network, part of the Turner Sports and Entertainment Network. Certain photos copyright © 2017 Getty Images. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of Getty Images is strictly prohibited. AdChoices