- Crosby vs. Ovechkin…..vs. Stamkos?
By: Stephanie Driscoll
If you’re a hockey fan, you’ve heard of the ongoing rivalry between Pittsburgh Penguins’ superstar center Sidney Crosby and Washington Capitals’ sniper Alexander Ovechkin. The two began playing hockey around the same time, and bestowed upon them was the weight of the hockey world. It was up to those two gentlemen to bring the NHL back to what it used to be, and then some.
Now, some five years later, the rivalry has continued, and it hasn’t lessened one bit. In fact, it may have acquired another side to the rivalry, and his name is Steven Stamkos. I’m sure you all remember the ‘Seen Stamkos?’ campaign when the Lightning had the first over-all draft pick in the 2008 NHL Draft. All eyes were on Stamkos, a promising player to the Tampa Bay Lightning, a team that was in a bit of a bind themselves.
They hadn’t made it past the first round of the playoffs after their Stanley Cup championship season of ’03-’04, and in some cases, hadn’t even made the playoffs. In a déjà vu sense, Stamkos to the Lightning was similar to Crosby to the Penguins. The Penguins hadn’t made it to the playoffs in such a long time that the city was thirsty for Lord Stanley’s Cup. The only thing standing between them and the holiest of grails was the Draft lottery (first overall draft pick would be decided between Anaheim and Pittsburgh. Whoever won would have picked Sidney Crosby) and lady luck was on Pittsburgh’s side. Acquiring Crosby to the Penguins assured the team that there was skill present, and there was someone the Penguins could turn to for many years to come (he was obviously a kid at 18).
The Washington Capitals were never a team that was feared by many. In fact, they were at one point the laughing stock of the National Hockey League (NHL). Alexander Ovechkin, a Russian superstar with a lethal shot, was their ticket to the promise land for the Stanley Cup, something this franchise never had (or have) experienced. Sadly, even though Ovechkin was the first overall draft pick, the NHL Lockout of the 2004-2005 season prevented him from playing that year.
However, the following season he began his rookie year (along with Sidney Crosby) and won the Calder Memorial Trophy (for non-hockey fans that’s for being the best rookie in the NHL). Ever since Ovechkin beat Crosby for the Rookie of the Year, avid hockey critics everywhere began trophy counting for each player, increasing the rivalry just a bit. Ovechkin won the Lester B. Pearson Award (most outstanding player), the Hart Memorial Trophy (MVP) in 2008 and 2009, the Art Ross Trophy (most scoring points in the NHL) in 2008, and the Rocket Richard Trophy (most goals) in 2008, and 2009. As impressive as Ovie’s resume may appear, Crosby’s is just as good, maybe even better. Firstly, I think everyone remembers Crosby lifting the Cup last year (something Ovie has yet to do). Crosby has not only exceeded in Midget hockey as a child, but he’s won the Mark Messier Leadership, Hart Memorial award, Lester B. Pearson Award, and Art Ross Trophy in 2007, and is tied for the Rocket Richard Trophy for this year. Of course, if you live in the Tampa Bay area (or at least follow hockey) you know Steven Stamkos is the man tied with Crosby for the Rocket Richard.
Stamkos’ story outline may have started out similar to those of Crosby and Ovechkin’s, but in no way are their stories the same. Crosby and Ovechkin excelled their freshmen years in the NHL, while Stamkos struggled to meet the bare minimum, giving critics a field day saying Stamkos couldn’t handle the NHL. Obviously, his sophomore year ended all doubts of Steven Stamkos’ ability to stay alive. In fact, he surpassed Alexander Ovechkin, the Rocket Richard winner for two years straight, by one goal. That one goal was scored the same day Sidney Crosby scored his 51 st goal, putting him in front of both Stamkos and Ovechkin. With seconds left in the game, Stamkos took the puck up the ice and shot the puck into the empty net, sealing the deal for both the game, and the Rocket Richard. Now, he and Crosby share the honor, the second time in NHL history there has been a tie(this is the first two way tie, there has also been a three way tie in 2003-2004 between Jarome Iginla, Ilya Kovalchuk, and Rick Nash)
There’s no doubting this kid has what it takes to win; he has the skill and the heart of a champion and there’s no stopping him until he reaches his ultimate goal: to bring the Tampa Bay Lightning back to the Stanley Cup. Even though Crosby and Ovechkin have a few more notches under their belts, don’t let that fool you. Steven Stamkos is the real deal, folks. As an avid hockey fan (a Pittsburgh Penguins fan…shh…) I will welcome him into this rivalry with open arms, as will all hockey addicts.