The (lack of) a rookie race
About.com's Jamie Fitzpatrick doesn't sound like a huge fan of The Globe and Mail's 'The Rookie' series (the latest entry of which can be found here):
But the article doesn't acknowledge that Ovechkin is also growing into a complete player, one who certainly isn't shy about throwing his weight around. ...It's fair comment. Something like stationing a reporter to follow one particular player for one particular season — especially that of an 18-year-old rookie on the league's worst team — always has the potential to backfire. That said, I'm not sure that just because Crosby doesn't win the Calder Trophy that the series is invalid or shouldn't have been attempted.
It's in the Globe and Mail's interests to keep this discussion alive. The reporter, Shawna Richer, is assigned to follow Crosby for the entire season, recording his every move, his every utterance, the length of every nose hair. She's also writing a book about him. Don't expect any articles acknowledging that the paper backed the wrong golden boy.
(In the penurious climate of today's sports media, ingenuity should always be lauded.)
In the article Mr. Fitzpatrick refers to, Globe reporter Shawna Richer does dig up some interesting tidbits from pretty 'in-the-know' sources that weigh in in Crosby's favour — something that I didn't, at this point, think possible. The argument about which rookie is 'better,' at least this season, had been seemingly dead since Crosby's Penguins lost 10 in a row and 16 of 17 games from early January to early February. (In fact, before Saturday's win over New Jersey, Pittsburgh had won just three times in their last 23 games. Now that's ugly.)
In that aforementioned 17 game span, Crosby had just five goals and was -8. In a year when fellow rookie Henrik Lundqvist is going to contend for the Vezina Trophy but not the Calder, that just ain't going to cut it.
In fact, even though Ovechkin competed through the entire Olympic Games and Crosby had the two weeks off, Alex the Great has scored on a 1.63 points-per-game pace since then — even better than he had prior to leaving for Turin.
Still, as Mr. Fitzpatrick notes, Crosby is on pace to finish this season with 94 points, an unfathomable number for an 18 year old player (and, in fact, the most ever for a kid that young). The only two players to finish with that many points (or more) in a year they were to turn 19 were Wayne Gretzky and Dale Hawerchuk.
Both are in the Hockey Hall of Fame, and Crosby's going to be there, too — even if he isn't named this season's rookie of the year.
Besides, I think at this point we can all say there's no shame in losing to someone like Ovechkin, who is one of the most individually talented players to enter the league in the past 20 years.