Alex Ovechkin on rivalry with Sidney Crosby: ‘We saved the NHL’

      The two future Hall of Famers have been amongst the NHL's best over the past two decades.

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      In a recent interview with The Athletic’s Rob Rossi, Alex Ovechkin kept things blunt about his and Sidney Crosby’s impact over the years.

      “We saved the NHL,” Ovechkin told Rossi.

      And it’s hard to deny it. The pair came into the league during the 2005-06 NHL season, kicking off the post-lockout NHL. They both registered over 100 points during their Calder season, something nobody has done ever since. Together, the two became instant superstars, giving the league some much-needed new blood.

      Since then, the pair have combined for four Stanley Cups, two Olympic championships and a World Cup of Hockey title. Most of it came from Crosby, but Ovechkin has the chance to do something truly special: break Wayne Gretzky’s NHL goals record, something most expected to crumble.

      Ovechkin currently sits at 827 goals, good for second all-time behind The Great One’s 894. Even at the age of 38, Ovechkin looks destined to break the record, potentially as early 2024-25.

      Crosby has shown no signs of slowing down. At 36, he’s on pace to break the 100-point barrier for the first time since 2018-19 and the seventh time in his career. While Crosby hasn’t been near the top of the scoring charts throughout his career, his awards cabinet is still one of the best of any player in hockey history. A member of the Triple Gold Club, few have been as consistently dominant as Sid the Kid.

      Ovechkin has slowed down slightly, with a 50-goal pace looking unlikely this year. But among some other records, Ovechkin leads the NHL with nine goal-scoring records, has the most goals scored by a left winger, is tied for the most career 50-goal seasons and was the first player to win the  Art Ross Trophy, Maurice Richard Trophy, Lester B. Pearson Award, and Hart Memorial Trophy all in one season.

      The pair combined for some of the most memorable moments in recent NHL history. On May 4, 2009, they scored dueling hat-tricks in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals in one of the craziest playoff games of the salary cap era. Crosby went on to lead Pittsburgh to a Stanley Cup victory after beating out the Detroit Red Wings in the playoffs that year. At the 2023 all-star game, Crosby and Ovechkin shared the ice during the breakaway challenge, with Ovi’s son, Sergei, joining the fun.

      Even with Connor McDavid and Connor Bedard stealing the spotlight in recent years, it seems like we’ll get two of the best from 21st century for a few more years now. And we’re better off for it.

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