Two stud hockey players in the NHL drafted first overall in back-to-back seasons from completely different parts of the world: this is just the simple way of summarizing the rivalry between Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin.
Canadian Crosby was seen from the start as the next “Great One.” Ovechkin came here from Russia and brought the same intensity and goal-scoring skills that we have come to expect from European stars. Both of these men have proven that they are great, but who is better?
Crosby and Ovechkin made their debuts in the 2005-2006 season. This was the season after the NHL lockout and together they helped bring the sport back. It helped too that they played in the same conference with a close enough geographical proximity; Crosby in Pittsburgh with the Penguins and Ovechkin in Washington with the Capitals.
It didn’t take long for the two young stars to shine. Ovechkin won the Calder Trophy, the league’s rookie of the year, and Crosby finished second in the voting. Ovechkin won the award with 52 goals and 54 assists with a total of 106 points. Crosby fell just short in the points category with 102 coming from 39 goals and 63 assists.
This first season would become a perfect representation of what each could bring to the NHL. Ovechkin takes shots and scores more goals. Crosby does score quite a few goals, but he has an eye to pass the puck to his teammates who are then able to put the puck into the back of the net. This trend has continued throughout the near decade they have both played.
Ovechkin won the Calder Trophy however it was Crosby who won the first Hart Trophy, the league’s MVP Award. Crosby did this in his second professional season where he had 36 goals and 84 assists.
The following season Ovechkin answered back by winning his first Hart Trophy when he led the league in goals with 65 and points with 112. Ovechkin was not done yet as he would repeat as the Hart Trophy winner the very next year. After four seasons in the league, Crosby and Ovechkin had already won three MVP Awards.
Both would consistently finish near the top of the Hart Trophy Award voting over the next several seasons until Ovechkin won it again in the shortened 2012-2013 season. It took the duo a while to win the award due to Ovechkin having a few poor seasons (by his standards) and Crosby missing significant time with injuries.
Although they began their careers in the same season, Ovechkin has played over 100 more games than Crosby has. As expected his goal total is much higher. Still, Crosby has many more assists and his point total is not as great as one might expect. Crosby has far greater points per game average than Ovechkin, actually ranked 4th all-time.
Since they are two different kinds of players it can be hard to measure who the better one is. One simple way to settle the score might be factoring in championships. In the Stanley Cup finals Crosby is 1-1. Ovechkin, he has been unable to get his team beyond the conference semi-finals.
The better hockey player, it depends what you need. In a meaningless game with no pressure Ovechkin is far better. For a long-term leader who makes the rest of the team better, you will want Crosby on your team.