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Magic or Bird? Elvis or the Beatles? Ovechkin or Crosby?

Mar 24, 2010, 3:30 PM EDT

elvisimpersonators.jpgOver the last few years, I’ve tried to find a great comparison for the Sidney Crosby-Alex Ovechkin rivalry.

For quite some time I went to basketball and flip-flopped between Kobe-Lebron and Magic-Bird (personally, I prefer Magic-Bird since both players came in the league at the same time, although Russia doesn’t exactly equate to French Lick, Indiana does it?). You could look back to the old days of Chamberlain vs. Russell or even go way off the map and compare the two players to professional wrestlers which, naturally, I did once before.

“Stone Cold” Steve Austin vs. “The Hitman” Bret Hart: Not a bad parallel to the Alex Ovechkin vs. Sidney Crosby rivalry when you think about it. Austin/Ovechkin appeal to the simple fan with brashness and aggressiveness; Hart/Crosby are vaguely whiny, undeniably talented Canadians. Crosby might even have a disturbing obsession with baby oil and strange sunglasses for all we know.

Really, though, my favorite analogy comes from Uma Thurman’s “Elvis vs. the Beatles” discussion from “Pulp Fiction.” Just substitute “Beatles” and “Elvis” with “Crosby” and “Ovechkin” and then run through Thurman(aka Mia Vincent)’s dialog and see how it relates to the way people feel about the two stars. (Warning: there might be a little paraphrasing in there, in case people want to yell at me for missing the occasional conjunction.)

Mia Vincent: ” … For instance, there’s only two kinds of people in the world: [Crosby] people and [Ovechkin] people. Now [Crosby] people can like [Ovechkin] and [Ovechkin] people can like [Crosby], but nobody likes them both equally. Somewhere, you have to make a choice and that choice tells you who you are.”

Jump for more Crosby-Ovechkin talk and a chance to vote to declare yourself an Elvis (Ovechkin) or Beatles (Crosby) person …


birdmagic.jpgThe other day, I was discussing the Crosby-Ovechkin feud with a few guys from Defending Big D and I made this point: my feeling is that if you stripped Crosby’s last name from his jersey or did something else to give people the “Pepsi Challenge,” hockey nerds would adore Sid. His game (when you boil down to its core elements) is subtle and nuanced. Although he’s obviously talented (just watch him skate), he is among the elite because of his hockey intelligence. Crosby is among the most driven athletes in all of sports. Just look at the way his faceoff numbers have improved from his abysmal 45.5 percent rookie rate to the league’s tenth best percentage of 56.2 percent.

Ovechkin, on the other hand, is a superhuman (almost video game-like) talent. His skills are slap-you-behind-the-ears simple yet equally unstoppable. I’ve never seen a player who can match his ability to release a horrifying shot from anywhere like him; he’s basically a threat to score the second he crosses the blue line. Obviously, he’s not afraid to clobber an opposing player, either.

So, with tonight’s clash between the Crosby-fueled Penguins and Ovechkin’s Washington Capitals just a few hours away, I cannot help but ask: are you a Crosby person or an Ovechkin person?

  1. Scott - Mar 24, 2010 at 4:39 PM

    I enjoyed reading this, but I’ve got to disagree here.
    For one, deleted scenes from Pulp Fiction notwithstanding, Elvis and The Beatles never really had an appreciable rivalry. They were from different eras and weren’t trying to accomplish the same things. Additionally, the two aren’t really even comparable–Elvis is a solo artist who wasn’t a songwriter and generally didn’t progress throughout his career, while The Beatles were prolific songwriters and certainly had several distinct periods in their brief career. Sure, you can say “some people like both but no one likes them equally”, but you could say that about almost literally any two things ever.
    Second, why is Ovechkin analogous to Elvis while Crosby is analogous to The Beatles? Even though this is obviously a sort of pointless exercise, I would much sooner call Crosby Elvis. Crosby’s the one who was thrust into the spotlight, as much by his own doing as the media’s. He’s the home-grown star that the nation wants to see succeed in a field where “others” (Europeans in hockey, black or British musicians in music) were becoming an increasingly large presence. He’s the one who has tremendous talent but wouldn’t have the accolades that he does without a top notch supporting cast.
    As for Ovie, I think we can safely say that the fervor around NHL arenas (especially in Canada) created by his presence is a lot closer to that famous Beatlemania than Crosby’s. You’ve also got the Russian/British invasion going on (hell, we can even take it further and say that Kovalchuk is The Kinks), and the universally-beloved status in their home nation while having occasional stumbling blocks in North America (Lennon’s “bigger than Jesus” comments come to mind). And The Beatles’ unprecedented chart dominance (yes, it surpassed even Elvis’) is reminiscent of Ovechkin’s continuing dominance over the NHL stat sheet and the milestones that he’s reaching more quickly than anyone before him.
    Plus, just look at their hair. I mean, come on.

  2. Scott - Mar 24, 2010 at 4:41 PM

    I enjoyed reading this, but I’ve got to disagree here.
    For one, deleted scenes from Pulp Fiction notwithstanding, Elvis and The Beatles never really had an appreciable rivalry. They were from different eras and weren’t trying to accomplish the same things. Additionally, the two aren’t really even comparable–Elvis is a solo artist who wasn’t a songwriter and generally didn’t progress throughout his career, while The Beatles were prolific songwriters and certainly had several distinct periods in their brief career. Sure, you can say “some people like both but no one likes them equally”, but you could say that about almost literally any two things ever.
    Second, why is Ovechkin analogous to Elvis while Crosby is analogous to The Beatles? Even though this is obviously a sort of pointless exercise, I would much sooner call Crosby Elvis. Crosby’s the one who was thrust into the spotlight, as much by his own doing as the media’s. He’s the home-grown star that the nation wants to see succeed in a field where “others” (Europeans in hockey, black or British musicians in music) were becoming an increasingly large presence. He’s the one who has tremendous talent but wouldn’t have the accolades that he does without a top notch supporting cast.
    As for Ovie, I think we can safely say that the fervor around NHL arenas (especially in Canada) created by his presence is a lot closer to that famous Beatlemania than Crosby’s. You’ve also got the Russian/British invasion going on (hell, we can even take it further and say that Kovalchuk is The Kinks), and the universally-beloved status in their home nation while having occasional stumbling blocks in North America (Lennon’s “bigger than Jesus” comments come to mind). And The Beatles’ unprecedented chart dominance (yes, it surpassed even Elvis’) is reminiscent of Ovechkin’s continuing dominance over the NHL stat sheet and the milestones that he’s reaching more quickly than anyone before him.
    Plus, just look at their hair. I mean, come on.

  3. cam - Mar 24, 2010 at 5:41 PM

    Crosby is a punk, a talented punk, but not the second coming. I’d like to see how the penguins numbers are without Crosby in the lineup compared to how they fare when Malkin is out. Ovechkin is a pleasure to watch on the ice not only for his ability but for the passion he brings to game that is not something that you get to see on every team around the league. He reminds me of everything I love about hockey. Crosby’s antics and disposition remind me of everything I hate about primadonna athletes.

  4. Chris Wassel - Mar 24, 2010 at 5:45 PM

    I am going to go a step backward here and suggest that we do not quite know what kind of rivalry this will take just yet. Both players are very young obviously and no one really knows how their careers will chart out. Sure Crosby has 1 more Cup than Ovechkin but who knows what could happen here.
    They also play different styles as well. Ovechkin is more fierce and Crosby is well Crosby. Give it time before labeling this but I do enjoy the debate.

  5. Brandon - Mar 25, 2010 at 3:47 AM

    I think Elvis is more like crosby, he went to Nixon and asked to be part of a special task force to eliminate the Beatles from America, whining just like crosby :p. Then the Beatles (at least later in their careers) were kind of the rebellious bad boys i.e Ovie. Just some thoughts

  6. Patti J - Mar 25, 2010 at 7:18 AM

    I always thought it was Beatles vs. Rolling Stones.

  7. cdubs - Apr 6, 2010 at 9:58 PM

    woooooooooooooooooooooooooo
    goooooooooooooooooooooooooo
    the most amazingest awesomest
    alex ovechkin

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