June 21, 2018

McDavid vs Crosby

I have often said Sidney Crosby is a player of destiny. He is at his most brilliant when the spotlight is at it's brightest, scoring the defining moment goals at the Winter Classic, in the Stanley Cup finals, or in back to back gold medal games. .

From an early age he was pegged as "the Next One." And like a true generational talent (I hate how overused that term is right now) such as Wayne Gretzky or Bobby Orr before him, he is a prodigy who not only fulfilled his promise, but has had one of the greatest careers in hockey history.

Fast forward to the next generational talent. Sorry Leafs fans, I don't mean Auston Matthews. Yeah, he's good. Very good. But the only true generational talent right now is Connor McDavid. He is the best of his generation. He's already the best in the league.

How good is McDavid? Good enough to win the Lindsay Award as the best player in the league as voted by his peers for the second year in a row. Good enough that since he broke into the league three years ago I've been saying that not only is already a better player than Crosby almost immediately, but the most offensively gift player I've seen since Wayne Gretzky. Now that's saying something, as there have been A LOT of really amazing players in the last 30 years.

But my fear is that McDavid will not get a chance to have the career that Crosby did, or all of the other greats. Will McDavid be the next Marcel Dionne instead of next Gretzky?

What separated Dionne and Gretzky was championship success. Dionne never had the supporting cast to get anywhere. All the game's true greats - Gretzky, Orr, Richard, Howe, Crosby - were surrounded by a great group that pushed them over the top.

Oilers fans must understand my fear right now. On the same night that McDavid won the Lindsay, they watched former Oiler Taylor Hall win the Hart Trophy as the League's MVP. The Hart remains the most highly regarded individual trophy in hockey. Oilers fans could be watching McDavid and Hall together, except the Oilers traded Hall for a depth defenseman, and then unwisely used the salary cap space to overpay for a slow thug named Milan Lucic.

Oilers fans don't need to be reminded of all the other shortcomings in their roster. Aside from Leon Draisaitl, is there anyone on the current Oilers roster who can really help McDavid achieve his destiny? Their goaltending is weak. Their blue line is thin. The best player in the game can only take you so far - even one as good as McDavid.

Then you throw in the fact that McDavid may never get to have the international accolades others have achieved. Will McDavid ever get the opportunity to play in the Olympics? The Olympics played a huge role in defining Crosby's career, and Alexander Ovechkin's. And if the NHL does not return to the Olympics, does anyone really care about the mismanaged World Cup anymore?

I really want to see Connor McDavid fulfill his destiny to become one of the game's all time greats. I really do believe he is already better than Crosby, and there is some Gretzky in him - the only player I've ever said that about. I sincerely hope he gets the supporting cast he needs to achieve greatness.

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