LAS VEGAS — Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid left Las Vegas last week without any new hardware for their trophy shelves, an unfamiliar experience. Missing out on individual awards is as rare as snowfall in this town.
Thing is, Crosby and McDavid still drew the most attention, from media and autograph hounds alike, at the NHL Awards ceremonies. Crosby is not this year's Hart Trophy winner, and McDavid is not the Rookie of the Year. But Crosby remains the biggest star in the league, and McDavid is widely regarded as his heir apparent.
There is so much in common between the two, starting with the fact they had the biggest media buildups of any players over the last 30 years entering the league as rookies. After the awards were handed out to others Wednesday night, Crosby and McDavid shared a warm handshake and several minutes of private conversation away from the crowd.
When it was time to give reporters a few minutes, the 28-year-old Crosby spoke about how much of himself he sees in the 19-year-old McDavid.
"Pretty similar," Crosby said. "When you look at the attention and the expectations coming in, the things he's gone through and the confidence and ability he had early on, I hope people saw that in me. But I certainly see it in him."
It's hard to believe Crosby, a newly minted Stanley Cup champion, is the wise sage now, the one with 11 seasons of NHL experience to reflect upon. McDavid, Crosby said, will be back to many more awards shows. He expects to be back to a few more himself.
While the two are competitors and neither likes coming in second, Crosby said he has marveled at McDavid's skill and intimated that if anyone is a worthy successor to his reign as the NHL's biggest star, it would be the kid from the Oilers.
"It's pretty apparent that he's a special player," said Crosby, who finished second in the Hart Trophy voting to Chicago's Patrick Kane. "With his [broken collarbone] injury, it was pretty tough, but he's going to dominate a lot of games I think."
While the two are Canadian and likely Olympic teammates in the future (if the NHL participates in the Games anymore, that is), Crosby and McDavid will play against one another in September's World Cup of Hockey in Toronto. Crosby will play for Team Canada, while McDavid will play for Team North America, a group composed of players 23 and under from Canada and the United States.
McDavid missed both of the Oilers' contests against Crosby's Penguins during the regular season with his injury, so September will mark the first time the two will face one another in competitive action. What does Crosby expect from that?
"It's gonna be fast," Crosby said with a grin. "Every one of them can skate. If you look at that list of guys, there are probably some of the top skaters in the league. It's going to be entertaining hockey and might be some chasing around going on out there. I think fans are going to love it, and I think it's going to be great hockey."
McDavid, who finished third in the Calder Trophy voting, said he can only hope for the kind of career Crosby has had to this point.
"Obviously, it's been amazing to see what he's been able to do," McDavid said. "To see him with the Cup again is so cool. I think for the guys here, that's the goal for us, too."
Crosby has every intention of holding on to the Stanley Cup for more than a year. He said he will resume serious hockey workouts in the first week of July to get ready for the World Cup.
"The good thing about playing this long is you've been skating for that long. You don't necessarily have to skate as much as you typically would," he said. "[Winning the Stanley Cup again] is what we're going to set out to do come training camp.
"I think what we went through this year will be a great lesson for us with going through so much adversity. We'll have a lot of the same guys coming back, so I think that trust among the guys will be there. It'll be our goal to repeat [for the first time since Detroit in 1998], but there's a reason why a lot of teams haven't done it."
Indeed, Crosby might have come away from Vegas without any new hardware, but he carried the Cup around with him. His name will soon be etched on it a second time, and there's better-than-even odds McDavid will get his on it someday, too.
Adrian Dater covers the NHL for Bleacher Report. Follow him @Adater.