SportsPulse: USA TODAY’s hockey insider Kevin Allen details the story lines that you should pay attention to this season.
USA TODAY Sports
A growing number of people in the hockey world now view Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid as the NHL’s best player, and yet he is unwilling to wear that crown.
“I definitely think (Sidney) Crosby is still on top,” McDavid told USA TODAY Sports earlier this month. “Everyone still has to chase him. There are so many different factors that go into it. No. 1 is winning, and (Crosby) is a proven winner. For all the young guys around the league, you have to win first to be considered.”
Just recently, Pittsburgh Penguins captain Crosby’s eight-year run as the No. 1 player in TSN’s Top 50 Player rankings ended when McDavid was chosen No. 1 by a panel of 22 experts. According to TSN, he had 59% of first-place votes.
“I have no problem saying that he was the best player in the league last year,” Crosby told USA TODAY Sports before those results were announced. “He should be proud of that. It’s not easy to accomplish what he did.”
McDavid, 20, won the NHL scoring championship with 100 points (30 goals) and was the league’s regular-season MVP. Crosby won the goal-scoring title with 44 goals (89 points), the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP and the Stanley Cup.
“Hockey is such a team sport it’s hard to pick who the best player in the world is,” McDavid said. “The list goes on and on with so many good candidates.”
What isn’t up for debate is that both players are respectful of the other’s abilities. Crosby said McDavid deserved the attention he received last season because “he took that next step.”
“I know he’s a humble guy, but to do the things he’s doing, is not easy,” Crosby added. “If anyone can appreciates that, and the pressure and expectations that go with it. … I can relate to it.”
The Crosby vs. McDavid debate has no answer because you are comparing a young superstar with limitless promise to a 30-year-old player who has done it all.