Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin traveled to Chicago to take part in NHL Media Day on Thursday. And at the event, The Great 8 ran into a familiar foe. Ovechkin renewed acquaintances with Pittsburgh Penguins forward Sidney Crosby — his biggest rival since entering the league in 2005.
While the two competitive, future Hall of Famers have won the Stanley Cup and been named league MVP multiple times, their relationship on the ice has oscillated between respectful and frosty over the years as the Capitals and Penguins have battled for league supremacy. The two have traded big hits, hugs, face washes, and handshakes. There’s also been some major drama too. For instance, Crosby and the Penguins skated off the ice to avoid shaking the Capitals’ hands after losing the 2011 Winter Classic in Pittsburgh while Ovecnkin challenged Crosby to a fistfight in 2018 as the two argued at the benches. “We’re not best buddies,” said Crosby in February 2020.
With all that history, kind words between the two stars have been few and far between. But on Thursday, Crosby sent some major love Ovechkin’s way and revealed he’s rooting for Ovi to break a record most thought was unbreakable two decades ago.
Crosby hopes Ovechkin breaks Wayne Gretzky’s all-time goals record of 894. Ovi, who signed a five-year extension with the Capitals in July, sits 164 goals behind The Great One, meaning he needs to average 33 goals per season to reach the mark.
“I hope he does (break the record). I told him today that I hope he does,” Crosby said to ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski. “It would be awesome. He’s in range.
“He can score anywhere from inside the blue line,” he added. “I just hope that all his goals that he gets are against the other teams, as he’s trying to add towards it.”
The two players both interacted together on Media Day and were even captured by the Capitals laughing during a joint interview. “We are sure everyone will react very calmly to this photo,” the team wrote on Instagram.
— CapitalsPR (@CapitalsPR) September 16, 2021
Crosby, who as a young player was commonly referred to as The Next One, has long received love and support from fellow Canadian Wayne Gretzky, which makes his comments even more jarring. Gretzky predicted that Crosby would be the one who would shatter his records.
“I was living in LA. He was at a summer camp,” Gretzky said in 2005. “It was mostly 17 or 18-year-old kids who were going to be high first-round picks. Some second-round picks. So it was a lot of good talent out there. The one youngster that caught my eye the most, [Crosby] was only 14 at the time. Honestly, I was so impressed by it, the next day I got on the ice to play with him. I just wanted to be able to be out there with him and see it first hand.
“He’s more talented than any 14 or 15-year-old I’ve seen in a long time. I think the last guy I saw a guy that good at that age was Mario Lemieux. But you could tell, he had a passion for the game and excitement for hockey that I hadn’t seen in a long time. All in all, I think if there’s anyone out there who is going to have an opportunity to come along and excite the fans and take it to another level, he’s the guy.”
As for Ovechkin, he reiterated to ESPN that he’s taking Gretzky’s goals record day-by-day and that he’s trying not to think about it.
“Because it’s too far,” Ovechkin said. “It’s a long way. And it’s a hard way. Whatever happens, happens.”
Headline photo: @CapitalsPR
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