Team Russia was ousted by Team Canada in the semi-finals of the World Cup of Hockey this past weekend. Hockey players Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin both played in that game. Several sporting news outlets noticed this fact and, deciding that the world hasn’t had enough of this particular story, rained down the takes.
One such story comes from Pierre LeBrun, ESPN’s NHL columnist and TSN Hockey insider. LeBrun beats this dead horse into glue while also getting some nifty anonymous quotes from some GMs and coaches who do not like Ovechkin one bit.
Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin were born into a rivalry 11 years ago which doesn’t really befit the sport they play. Hockey is more about team than any other sport. They are both the first to tell you that.
They can’t both be the first to tell you that unless they’re speaking at the same time, which would be weird.
But really, this is where the story should end. Hockey is a team sport, and Canada’s team is about 35 times better than Russia’s, and the Penguins as a team were better than the Capitals last season. No gold medal or Stanley Cup has been won solely because one team’s superstar was marginally better than another.
They both constantly downplay their individual comparisons. They long ago tired of the narrative. Frankly, so have many of us. But it is on nights like these when the comparison is dragged back out because you have no choice.
What? It’s not like we don’t have a choice in the matter. We don’t have to shower hockey fans with a tired, trite narrative that was played out 7 years ago. We could do other things instead, like go to the pumpkin patch or knit sweaters.
“It’s like the five-tool guy vs. the home-run hitter: The five-tool guy finds more ways to win all the time,” said a Western Conference head coach not involved in the tourney
This quote is stupid on many levels, the first being that this coach is calling Ovechkin a one-trick pony. Ovechkin is a generational talent who may end up being the greatest goalscorer of all time who was once a dominant force during even-strength play then added power-play specialization and who also happens to hit like a Mack truck.
And find me another superstar who has the unbridled joy of Alex Ovechkin.
“Full-court player vs. half-court player,” added an Eastern Conference GM not involved in the World Cup, via text message during the third period.
This quote is interesting as it was apparently sent during a game in which Ovechkin spent all his time blocking shots because his team never had the puck. If the “half court” this GM was referring to meant the defensive zone, then yes, I agree.
Steph Curry is often called a “half-court” player, but he’s American, so.
World juniors, NHL playoffs, men’s world championships, Olympics and now World Cup: Crosby owns Ovechkin by any definition.
This is correct. Crosby won every one of these one-on-one fights to the death. I vividly remember when Crosby scored that golden goal on goalie Ovechkin to win the 2010 Olympics, and when Crosby won the playoff MVP in 2009 for his singularly dominant performance.
In the Crosby-Ovechkin era, Canada has been significantly better than Russia at hockey. Are there even six Russian defensemen in the last decade years who could equal the defensive depth that Canada didn’t even select for their World Cup roster?
No question, if you had Crosby and Ovechkin swap uniforms Saturday night, Ovechkin might have had a better chance of scoring with Team Canada boasting a deeper squad.
LeBrun does this throughout the article — playing devil’s advocate for a moment and then retreating into that dreary old diatribe soon after.
Years from now, though, fewer will remember the job Toews or Weber did on Ovechkin. They likely will remember it as another big game in which Crosby got the better of Ovechkin. Like it or not, that’s the story which doesn’t seem to ever change.
Want to know why this won’t change? Want to know why the hockey world will never fully appreciate the greatest goalscorer in the modern era and arguably the greatest goalscorer of all-time until he’s long gone from the sport?
Partly because he’s Russian and our sport is dominated by loud, jingoistic North American voices, but also because writers keep rehashing this same old story.
This is why I don’t blame players like Phil Kessel when they lash out at the media.
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