Sidney Crosby needs a new rival.
That whole Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin thing appears to have died, as the Washington Capitals‘ playoff hopes continue to trend in a similar direction. Which means that Crosby needs someone new to match up with him in the new “greatest in the world” debate. Of course, there are only a few choices for such an…honor.
While the obvious choice may be Crosby’s own teammate, Evgeni Malkin, the one we’re going to focus on is Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews. He has plenty of qualities that would lead him to fit the bill as that best-in-the-world type, and it was recently suggested by Adam Proteau over at The Hockey News that it was, in fact, Toews vs. Crosby as the top rivalry in the NHL.
Which is interesting. Two guys in separate conferences that would rarely meet in the event that both were even healthy, which they have not been the last two times the Pittsburgh Penguins and Blackhawks have squared off. But could you even consider two players that maybe meet once a year to be rivals? And if they can, how does Toews measure up to the unanimous choice as the world’s best hockey player?
In terms of the accomplishments and the accolades each has taken home over the course of their short careers, you could take a rivalry into some sort of consideration for two of the most decorated players ever. Yes, two players that have been in the year for about a combined 10 years could be considered all-time greats.
Each has a Stanley Cup ring. Each has taken home Olympic gold. Crosby scored the overtime goal to clinch that gold, but Toews was named best forward in the tournament. Each also has a goal from World Juniors, while Toews has one from the World Championships as well. Of course, Crosby has an Art Ross & a Hart Trophy to his credit, which Toews does not.
So in terms of accomplishments, there isn’t much separating the two, outside of the major end-of-season awards that Crosby has over Toews. Which means that there absolutely could be a rivalry between the two from a success standpoint. The two could serve as a measuring stick for the other as their careers go on, and we could count up the hardware when they each call it a career.
As far as talent goes, though, there’s no doubt that Crosby is the superior offensive player, but Toews may be the better all-around player, when you take defense into account. Toews should take home at least one Selke Trophy over the course of his career, as one of the best defensive forwards in the game.
However, any way you look at it, it’s really difficult to potentially look at this as a rivalry. If Toews was in the Eastern Conference, or vice versa, then absolutely. Now if Malkin goes into free agency in the next couple years and signs somewhere in the East, then you’ll have a nice on-ice rivalry for Crosby.
Regardless of the rivalry situation, each of these players will be considered a couple of the best players to ever lace up a pair of skates. They’ve each already had storied careers, are elite players, and leaders of the highest quality. Attaching the rivalry tag to them just wouldn’t make much sense, though.