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. Cooke: ‘I have fire in my belly, I still feel I can play’

    Aug 30, 2015, 9:00 PM EDT

    Matt Cooke Matt Cooke

    The 36-year-old is still looking for a contract after being bought out by the Wild.

  2. Poll: Will Minnesota’s power play improve this season?

    Aug 30, 2015, 7:00 PM EDT

    The Wild ranked 27th overall last season with the man advantage.

  3. Wild’s biggest question: Who will step up at center?

    Aug 30, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT

    Mikael Granlund Mikael Granlund

    Granlund scored just eight goals last season while playing between Pominville and Parise.

  4. Looking to make the leap: Mike Reilly

    Aug 30, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT

    2015 NCAA Division I Men's Ice Hockey Championship - Northeast Regional 2015 NCAA Division I Men's Ice Hockey Championship - Northeast Regional

    He’s hoping to crack the Wild’s opening night roster after three seasons at the University of Minnesota.

  5. Under Pressure: Devan Dubnyk

    Aug 30, 2015, 1:30 PM EDT

    Devan Dubnyk Devan Dubnyk

    He’ll have to prove last season was not a fluke.

  6. Report: Ballard, Leopold leaning towards retirement

    Aug 30, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT

    Keith Ballard Keith Ballard

    Both blue liners are unrestricted free agents.

  7. Wild ’15-16 Outlook

    Aug 30, 2015, 10:30 AM EDT

    Zach Parise Getty Images

    Can they take a step forward this season?

  8. Glencross regrets taking hometown discount

    Aug 29, 2015, 9:00 PM EDT

    Curtis Glencross Getty Images

    He’s currently an unrestricted free agent.

  9. Under Pressure: Brandon Saad

    Aug 29, 2015, 7:30 PM EDT

    Brandon Saad Getty Images

    Columbus bet heavily on him this summer.

  10. Poll: Will Columbus win its first playoff series?

    Aug 29, 2015, 6:00 PM EDT

    Ryan Johansen Getty Images

    Just making the postseason would be seen as a good season, but perhaps the Blue Jackets are in position to do more.

  11. Looking to make the leap: Sonny Milano

    Aug 29, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT

    Sonny Milano Getty Images

    This will be his first full season as a pro.

  12. Tributes pour in for Al Arbour

    Aug 29, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT

    Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Islanders Getty Images

    “We did lose a great man.”

  13. Blue Jackets ’15-16 Outlook

    Aug 29, 2015, 10:30 AM EDT

    Scott Hartnell Getty Images

    The Blue Jackets have to hope for better health this season.

  14. It’s Columbus Blue Jackets day at PHT

    Aug 29, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT

    Ryan Johansen AP

    Looking to bounce back after an injury-ravaged campaign.

  15. Calder runner-up Stone says injured wrist is ‘100 percent’

    Aug 28, 2015, 10:15 PM EDT

    150829_MarkStone Getty Images

    You know, the one injured on “that” slash from P.K. Subban.

  16. Pens sign prospect Sprong to entry-level deal

    Aug 28, 2015, 7:45 PM EDT

    2015 NHL Draft - Portraits 2015 NHL Draft - Portraits

    The club’s top pick at this year’s draft.

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. P. Kessel (1726)
  2. P. Kane (1251)
  3. P. Datsyuk (1216)
  4. M. Richards (1068)
  5. M. Giordano (1065)