Guest Author - Kevin Thorburn
With all the hype surrounding both Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby, especially the latter, this season and the performances put forth by both, the question debated by hockey fans worldwide is, “Who is the better player?”
The Russian born Ovechkin finished third in the NHL scoring race while Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, Canada’s Crosby finished sixth. They ended the season with 52 goals, 54 assists for 106 points and 39 goals, 63 assists for 102 points respectively. Both played in 81 games. Those are pretty impressive numbers for rookies.
That is where the Calder Memorial Trophy comes into play. This trophy is given each season to the rookie (first full year of professional hockey) deemed most outstanding in the league. Chances are that Ovechkin will come away with this piece of hardware when the awards are handed out 22 June 2006 in Vancouver, Canada as the elusive 50 goal marker makes his numbers looks especially good. Now, while both players are rookies, Ovechkin is two years older than Crosby and used that time wisely, especially during the NHL lockout, playing for the elite Russian League team, Moscow Dynamo. Crosby finished his tenure in junior hockey in Canada. The two young stars had a chance to go head-to-head during the 2005 World Junior Hockey Championship with Canada’s Crosby showing up Russia’s Ovechkin as Canada went on to win gold.
Both players were first round, first overall picks in the NHL draft. Both performed under a tremendous amount of pressure as all eyes were upon them as the season went on, although the pressure was certainly more intense for Crosby with all of Canada looking for the next superstar. He is the most heralded player since Eric Lindros. Here is the most impressive marker achieved to date by either of these players: Crosby became the youngest player in NHL history to reach 100 points in a season.
While both look destined to become superstars, Ovechkin is more of a pure goal scorer while Crosby can do it all. Any honest general manager in the NHL would undoubtedly choose the ability of Crosby over Ovechkin any day. Ovechkin may come away with the prestigious Calder Trophy, but remember, Howie Meeker won the Calder in 1947 beating out another young star in the making: Gordie Howe.