Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Crosby, meet Ovechkin

As I mentioned last night, The Globe and Mail gave some big A-section play to the meeting between Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin in today's paper.

Come to think of it, with a picture of the Jiri Fischer incident on the front page [see image of today's cover here], the paper was as hockey-tastic as I've seen it since starting at The Globe.

I don't know what any of my reading faithful will be doing tonight, but me, on this fine day off, I'll be watching what is being hyped as the meeting between the next Gretzky-Lemieux pair — or, for my American readers, Bird-Johnson, in whatever sport it is that they played.

As The Globe story from today notes, tonight will be the first meeting between the two players since Russia was whupped 6-0 by Canada in the World Junior championship final in January.

UPDATE The results of the NHL's conference call with the two rookies.

As an aside, I think there may be more Canadians rooting for Ovechkin than people might think. The Crosby overload in this country has gone a little crazy — people are beginning to tire of Sid the Kid rather quickly (and it's only November). Ovechkin, on the other hand, comes across as quite humble in interviews (especially for a Russian superstar), and, I think, has won over a lot of people. Tonight should be interesting.

As a second aside, what is the deal with the headline on this Lemieux story? Mario not committed to the Olympics? That's hardly what was said:
He said that he hasn't talked to Team Canada executive director Wayne Gretzky about it yet, but would like to play if he is healthy and playing well, but that consideration should be given to players who are if he is not.

"There are too many good players now to take a spot just because you're a name," he said. "That wouldn't be right to Team Canada or myself. Whoever is playing the best [should go]. If I am playing well and they want me there I'll be there for them."
Is the headline technically correct? I suppose so. But that's a pretty sensationalistic way of saying Mario won't go if he doesn't feel up to it. Then again, the news value of that statement is less than one questioning his commitment.

Oh, the media.

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At 4:27 p.m., November 22, 2005, Blogger Brushback said...

Hey, nice picture of Ovechkin in a Dynamo jersey... plus the mirrored visor that he's not allowed to wear anymore.

At 5:36 p.m., November 22, 2005, Anonymous cy said...

The Olympic team story is the ultimate rainy-day story. It's also the sidebar you always see written -- as in, "Hey, it's a Leafs off day, let's do an Olympic team update"; or "I'm in Pittsburgh, there's Mario, let's see what he says" ... It's not a big story -- I thought in this case it was just Mario the owner taking the hat from Mario the player. So he says yeah, he might not play, and it he doesn't, hey, we got lots of good young players, and hey, look at this kid Crosby we got here, he'd look great in a Canada uniform.

At 7:57 p.m., November 22, 2005, Blogger Chris said...

Count me firmly in the Oveshkin camp. He ran a goalie the other night and the payback just bounced off him like water beads. He is a one man wrecking crew on a team that is a wreck without him, and he has serious hubris.

Crosby's great, but Ovechkin showed up with everything hooked up and ready to go. He gets my Calder vote already.

At 9:58 p.m., November 22, 2005, Blogger Docciavelli said...

Ah yes, the Crosby hate continues on the Mirtle blog. James, I read you regularly because I really respect your take on most issues (especially the on-going disgrace in Columbus), but the vibe of dislike I get from you and many of your commenters toward Sid seems to go a bit too far.

Did you see the game tonight? You can't honestly tell me that Sidney Crosby isn't on par with Ovechkin. This is coming from someone who lives in Maryland and watches both on a regular basis.

Don't get me wrong, I've got tremendous admiration for A.O. I coach youth hockey here and one of my kids' fathers is the Director of Marketing for the Caps. He tells me regularly how hard Ovechkin works and how unassuming he is in person, and I believe it. The anecdote from Buccigross regarding his son getting a stick at Piney Orchard after practice is not a singular experience, believe me--the kid really is that nice.

But seriously, Crosby really has been better than I expected. After seeing Ovechkin in the preseason, I was ready to give him the Calder myself. And sure, if I would've based my Calder vote on the first 10 games of the season, I would've gone with Alex. But if you look at their last 11 games counting tonight, both have 9 goals. Both got helpers tonight, but Crosby seems to have the more consistent ice vision.

Add to all of that the fact that Ovechkin is two years older and played in the Russian Superleague last year as opposed to Crosby in the QMJHL.

Perhaps it's just the fact that I live in the D.C. market of the U.S., and I see more hype of Ovechkin--therefore I don't get a visceral reaction to Crosby hype.

At 10:11 p.m., November 22, 2005, Blogger James Mirtle said...

Docciavelli, there's nothing in that post that expresses my dislike (not to mention 'hate') for Crosby. I'm merely mentioning the 'vibe of dislike' that is running strongly in my circles.

Keep in mind that the newspaper I work has a Crosby dedicated reporter and a few stories a week solely on him. I'm not personally sick of hearing about him — I don't think it's possible for me to tire of anything hockey-related (other than the CBA talk that went on the past year). I would, however, like more balance in the Canadian media's coverage of this year's rookie crop. How many people even know what team Brent Seabrook plays for?

The only criticism I ever had of Crosby — and feel free to sift through the archives to prove me wrong — was that Ovechkin deserved the Rookie of the Month Award for October. Since then, Crosby has consistently been the better player. He'll be my pick for November's Rookie of the Month, even though there's still a week to go.

At 12:18 a.m., November 23, 2005, Anonymous JP said...

In regards to the notion that Crosby has a disadvantage coming out of junior to play in the NHL, it is only of note that Ovechkin has a disadvantage playing in a new league, new country and adjusting to a new culture - something that should not be underrated.
I think that these factors even out. You see how difficult it is to learn new tricks in a new country - just ask Marc Savard and Brian McCabe.


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