Skip to content

Perception vs. Reality and Crosby vs. Ovechkin

Dec 31, 2010, 9:00 AM EDT

Comments Off on Perception vs. Reality and Crosby vs. Ovechkin
Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby AP

When people think of Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, two wildly disparate images come to mind. One is of the handsome, bland choir boy who speaks in cliches whether he just won the Cup or scored a gold medal winning goal. Some say the other guy looks like a caveman, parties like a Russian hockey playing Keith Richards and shoots fire balls at goalies like he’s Ken from Street Fighter II.*

Of course, a lot of those two descriptions are based on broad media brushstrokes founded on scant encounters and public appearances. Some might say that modern athletes keep the media (and the public) at arm’s length, but that description isn’t sufficient. After all, to be at arm’s length requires you to be in the same room as another person. Very few media types have gotten that close to Crosby and Ovechkin for any reasonable duration of time.

That’s why HBO’s unprecedented access during its 24/7 series has been so illuminating, yet the brief glimpses ultimately only give us more questions. Now I cannot claim intimate knowledge just because I own an HBO subscription, but allow me to quickly study a few ways the two players break their often self-imposed stereotypes.

Sidney Crosby: One of the boys?

Remember when everyone thought Tiger Woods was practically a golf ball launching robot who only seemed like he wanted to chase Jack Nicklaus on the courses … yet now it seems apparent he was chasing Wilt Chamberlain too? Well, I don’t think that Crosby has the same Batman/Bruce Wayne double life as Woods, but he has more personality than expected.

Now, he still can be as bland as a rice cake at times, but I think HBO revealed that Crosby fits in pretty well with his teammates and displays some sense of humor. There were great moments during the team’s plane trips in which Crosby was playing PSP games with his teammates and cutting it up, but one of the most interesting moments involved him discussing his much-ridiculed fight with Matt Niskanen.

Does this mean that Crosby might be a party animal, deep down? No, I doubt that. Instead I think he’s a pretty normal guy whose blind devotion to hockey means that he won’t be caught with Russian (or Canadian) co-eds left and right like the Magic Johnson to his Larry Bird.

(Or does Crosby=Magic and Ovechkin=Bird instead? We could debate that for ages – and I would enjoy that.)

Alex Ovechkin: momma’s boy?

Conversely, the image attached to Ovechkin is that of a party animal who lavishes himself with fast women and fast cars. While that persona might be an element of Ovechkin’s personality, it doesn’t provide the whole picture.

There’s one thing about both Crosby and Ovechkin that people forget because of their absurd success and talents: they’re both still kids. Crosby is only 23 years old and Ovechkin is 25. If they remain healthy, each player should have at least 10 more years to write their career narratives.

HBO revealed just how much of a kid Ovechkin can be by showing him at home, eating his parents’ food and playing video games. Now, some noted that his parents aren’t always there, but this clip illustrates the fact that he isn’t just a wild millionaire athlete but also a young adult still growing up. This makes him just like his rival, a person who can still reasonably be called “Sid the Kid.”

* – My memory/actual knowledge of Capcom’s fighting game mythology is hazy, but I believe that Ken was more of a party animal than Ryu. If nothing else, he had blond hair and seemed more stylish in his red dogi.

Latest Posts
  1. What does Jack Eichel mean to the Buffalo Sabres?

    Aug 3, 2015, 8:15 PM EDT

    Jack Eichel Getty Images

    He’s already improved the perception of the franchise, but will he have that kind of impact long-term?

  2. MacLellan doesn’t think summer additions have to take from Johansson

    Aug 3, 2015, 6:45 PM EDT

    Marcus Johansson Getty Images

    He’ll have a tough time maintaining a top-six role though.

  3. Buffalo Sabres ’14-15 Outlook

    Aug 3, 2015, 5:15 PM EDT

    MATT MOULSON AP

    Despite all the splashy moves, patience likely will be needed.

  4. Poll: How soon will the Sabres make the playoffs?

    Aug 3, 2015, 3:15 PM EDT

    Tim Murray, Jack Eichel AP

    Pondering a rebuilding process that took a leap.

  5. Sabres’ biggest question: Defense

    Aug 3, 2015, 2:07 PM EDT

    Zach Bogosian, Boone Jenner AP

    Perhaps you can broaden this to “keeping the puck out of their net.”

  6. NHL ordered to turn over concussion data as part of lawsuit

    Aug 3, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT

    Beyond Sport United 2015 Getty Images

    The league estimates such a process could cost about $13.5 million.

  7. Looking to make the leap: Sam Reinhart

    Aug 3, 2015, 11:57 AM EDT

    Sam Reinhart Getty Images

    In all likelihood Jack Eichel is going to make the team, but what about Buffalo’s other second overall pick?

  8. Under Pressure: Robin Lehner

    Aug 3, 2015, 10:42 AM EDT

    Robin Lehner, AP

    This is his chance to prove he’s a real No. 1 goalie.

  9. It’s Buffalo Sabres Day at PHT

    Aug 3, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT

    150803-Jack-Eichel2 Getty Images

    The worst should be behind them.

  10. Poll: Is Boudreau the right coach to lead Anaheim to a championship?

    Aug 2, 2015, 9:00 PM EDT

    Bruce Boudreau AP

    Is his poor Game 7 record reflective of anything?

  11. Ducks’ Biggest Question: Is their window already starting to close?

    Aug 2, 2015, 7:30 PM EDT

    Ryan Kesler AP

    In other words, how much longer will Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, and Ryan Kesler stay at the top of their game?

  12. In Bernier, Leafs hope they have a stabilizing force

    Aug 2, 2015, 6:00 PM EDT

    Jonathan Bernier Getty Images

    His newly signed two-year deal is an opportunity for

  13. Looking to make the leap: Nick Ritchie

    Aug 2, 2015, 4:30 PM EDT

    Nick Ritchie Getty Images

    He’s got the size and skill to potentially make an impact.

  14. Under Pressure: Anaheim’s goaltenders

    Aug 2, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT

    150802_FrederikAndersen Getty Images

    Andersen, Gibson & Khudobin have a combined 27 Stanley Cup playoff games on their resume.

  15. Bernier, Leafs agree on two-year, $8.3 million deal

    Aug 2, 2015, 11:48 AM EDT

    Jonathan Bernier Getty Images

    That will eat up his first year of UFA eligibility.

  16. Anaheim Ducks ’14-15 Outlook

    Aug 2, 2015, 11:28 AM EDT

    Calgary Flames v Anaheim Ducks - Game Five Getty Images

    Can they close to final gap between them and the Stanley Cup?

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. D. Stepan (2023)
  2. J. Toews (1640)
  3. N. Bonino (1594)
  4. E. Fehr (1535)
  5. B. Gionta (1448)
  1. C. Wilson (1372)
  2. G. Bettman (1362)
  3. L. Couture (1283)
  4. A. Chiasson (1252)
  5. S. Couturier (1242)