The debate will go on until his career is over and probably even after that. However, there is no question that right now Sidney Crosby is the best, most complete player in the National Hockey League.
In all due respects to fine goaltenders like Tim Thomas and Carey Price, not one single player does more for his team than Crosby. Alexander Ovechkin and Steven Stamkos may be better pure scorers and have more offensive creativity, but Crosby makes up for that by simply outworking everyone.
Not that Crosby doesn't have an incredible arsenal of physical talent, he surely does. He has top level speed and agility, impressive lower-body strength for his frame and has the eye-hand coordination that is just out of this world.
All that being said, having talent and being a great athlete just isn't enough in pro sports anymore. Everyone in the NHL is a good athlete for the most part and everyone in the NHL is talented. What separates the "elite" players from being ordinary is motivation.
Rarely do you see Crosby gliding around the ice or looking lethargic. Rarely does Crosby "settle" for anything. Crosby seems almost obsessed at being perfect in every aspect of the game. It seems that Crosby is on a quest to be the best and most complete hockey player in the world and right now he surely is that.
After watching Ovechkin lead the league in goals two seasons in a row, most fans and critics said that Ovechkin would go down as the greatest goal scorer of his generation. Those same people said that Crosby could never be as lethal of a goal scorer as Ovechkin.
Last season Crosby tied Stamkos for the lead league in goals with 51, taking home a share of the Maurice Rocket Richard trophy, which is given to the leading goal scorer at the end of each season. To prove that it wasn't a fluke, Crosby once again leads the league in goals this year, and is on pace for a whopping 64 goals for the season. (Ovechkin hasn't scored in nine games and currently stands 11 points and 11 goals behind Crosby).
Its not just the goals and assists, its even his face-offs. His first few seasons in the league Crosby, who plays center, was often criticized for his failures on face-offs, failing to win 50 percent of them his first two years in the league.
Last year, Sid lead the league in face-off wins and won over 55 percent of them. This year is no different as he once again leads the league in face-off wins and is still winning over 55 percent of them.
Right now it's hard to come up with an adjective good enough to describe just how well Crosby is playing. He's on a 14-game points streak, in which he has scored 15 goals, including two hat-tricks. It might very well be the best he has ever played in his career.
In all do respect to all of the great players around the league, there is no debate as to who is the best player in the league, at least for now. Crosby has everything you need in a player. He's fast, strong, has great vision, is a great passer and a proven finisher.
What really separates Crosby from everyone else is his work ethic and motivation. Every day he's training or working on a weakness of his game. He doesn't just want to be considered good he wants to be the best. I think so far he's proven that.
So what's next for Sidney Crosby? What else can he prove? What else can he accomplish? Can he reach the levels that Wayne Gretzky and/or Mario Lemieux were at? Can Crosby become one of the greatest hockey players of all-time? I'm not sure, but I certainly wouldn't bet against Sidney Crosby.