Monday, June 10, 2013

Pride & Prejudice (& Pierre)- Unfair Bias in the NHL

One of my first posts talked about how comparing Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby is stupid. That being said, there are still those in the hockey world who decide they must compare the two brightest stars in the league (looking at you Mike; and you too, Pierre). There are people who say Ovechkin will not be as good as Crosby until he wins the Stanley Cup (he, not the team), who'll say that OV "should be ashamed of himself," (again, that's you, Mike) and those who will fawn on Sidney Crosby while naming all of his Pee Wee league teammates and what they're doing now (Pierre).

Ovechkin was in a 2.5 year 'slump,' where he 'only' had 85 and 65 points (and 32 and 38 goals), which automatically made him way overpaid. Combine that with yearly playoff disappointments and the OV and the Caps were washed up.

Ovechkin and Crosby have now been in the league for 8 years; Crosby has a cup, OV does not. There. Plain and simple. Crosby has a better point per game than OV. That's true too. But so what?

Peerless wrote an article earlier this off-season about how OV is criticized a lot. He did not compare him to Crosby, but instead to Evgeni Malkin. Despite nearly identical statistics, Malkin never gets criticized. Never. The closest I came to finding a scathing article of him was in a 2008 Sports Illustrated where it talked about him not showing up to talk to the media after losing to the Red Wings. Malkin, Crosby, and the rest of the Penguins get lots of love from the league, and therefore from the fans as well.

This year, though, the same year Mike Milbury started spazzing out about Ovechkin's lack of commitment, the same year OV turned his year around and led the Caps to a surprise playoff berth, the same year the Pens built up the Eastern Conference All Star team (minus Alex Ovechkin), and the same year virtually everyone had written off OV and the Caps and anointed the Pens Stanley Cup Champs and Crosby the best player in the world (or ever), the Boston Bruins stunned the world (and made my day) by sweeping the Penguins. And what have people said about Crosby, Malkin, and the Pens?

Nothing. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

The Penguins have more cups than the Caps. What can just OV do about that? Hockey is a team sport; if your goalie has a bad day, if you break your foot trying to block a shot, if your team takes 6 penalties, there is not much you, as one person can do.

And let's be honest: both the Caps and Pens have made the playoffs every year since 2008 (the Pens also made it in 2007). The Pens have the only cup, back in 2009. They have also had playoff disappointments every year since then. Albeit, they have made in past the second round (once), they still have not lived up to previous expectations.

Both Crosby and Ovechkin had outstanding regular seasons followed by playoff disappointments, but only OV got the blame and was criticized. The media has to stop railing on OV because it's fun to do. At the very least, if you rail on one, rail on the other.

Unfortunately, though, it doesn't look like this will change. At least until the Caps win the cup. And when they do, OV will finally be able to prove his doubters wrong.

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