Pittsburgh Penguins’ Sidney Crosby Putting the ‘Best Player In the World’ Debate to Bed

Penguins

Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Think back to 2009. When it came to who was the best hockey player in the world the debate came down to two players: Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals. The two would eventually face off in a Eastern Conference playoff matchup that was legendary in its own right and went seven games before the Penguins prevailed. The two captains put on a show for the hockey world to see and then let the debate continue as to who is best.

Afterwards, Crosby suffered a concussion and missed over a year of ice time. Add a lockout shortened season to the mix and finally the debate can rage on, but is it even worth discussing? Forget about Ovechkin for a second and ask yourself if there is anyone that is in this discussion or debate in the present day? If you ask me, the answer is a resounding ‘no’.

Crosby has thrived on his work ethic, and as former teammate Matt Cooke so eloquently described Crosby as “the best player in the world that plays like a third liner.” Crosby’s relentless play on the ice is paying huge dividends not only for him personally but for the Penguins as well.

The Penguins are leading the Eastern Conference with 68 points, which is eight points ahead of the second place Boston Bruins for most points in the conference. The Metropolitan Division is another story. The same 68 points give the Penguins a 17-point cushion over the second place Capitals. Read that again, 17 points. All of that success is due to the one player that the Penguins have had in their lineup night in and night out: Sidney Crosby.

Crosby is having a career season to this point, and for someone that has already won a Hart and Rocket Richard trophy, that is saying something. Crosby’s 67 points are 11 greater than Patrick Kane who sits beside John Tavares in second place with 56 points. Some always argue that Crosby benefits from assists to get his point totals so high, but this season he has truly elevated his game. Crosby has scored 25 goals this season and is seven behind Ovechkin for the lead in that category.

Crobsy continues to raise the bar, not only for himself, but for his team. His 67 points through 47 games is astonishing on many levels. If you follow hockey there is no doubt there are unbelievable goal scorers. Ovechkin, Pavel Datsyuk and even Evgeni Malkin come to mind, but no one pairs goal scoring with pure play making ability like Crosby.

Crosby is the complete package. Goals, assists, face offs – you name it, he does it and does it well. It will be exciting to see where Crosby leads the Penguins this season and how his individual year will turn out; however, one thing is for sure; the debate on who the best player in the world is a closed case.

Jeff Hartman covers the Pittsburgh Steelers for RantSports.com and  also contributes for the Penguins and Pirates. Follow him on  Twitter @BnGBlitz and add him on Google+

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  • Mike Legacy

    Can’t believe a flame war hasn’t erupted in the comments section yet….But I agree. There is no debate. Crosby is the best.

  • Lauren Burg

    If Steven Stamkos could have remained healthy there might be a pretty good debate. He was sizzling hot out of the gate, and looked to be on an MVP pace before going down Nov. 11 in Boston. Unfortunately, the injury that’s costing him half a season gives Crosby the edge in this debate for now. However, a return to form by Stammer prior to next season could reignite this debate. Just my two cents though.

    • Opinynated

      Stamkos is, perhaps, one of the greatest pure goal scorers to ever play the game. As a complete player, he has not reached the discussion for greatest yet- although one can see clear signs that he is working on his defensive and support skills.

      There are many players who do this or that better than Crosby – but none who boast such a high level of performance in so many key areas of hockey play.

      Ovechkin is better at the rush, Stamkos better at the snipe, Jagr better on the boards, Toews better behind the hash marks, Kunitz better in front of the net … and so on … Crosby is good, great or excellent at pretty much everything.