Monday, May 01, 2006

You know I'm better than you, right?

I think that title is what the caption should read to the picture on the right. Since things have been hotly debated on who should get the Calder trophy for NHL 2006 rookie of the year, I will attempt to explain with rational thoughts (Sabermetrics not included) how Crosby should and will win the rookie honors. What really screwed things up is how the lockout and post-CBA will continue to affect the NHL and all rookies coming in afterwards. If it wasn't for the lockout, both Crosby and Ovechkin would be rookie of the year in their own spotlighted year. I'll sort out the details.

  • Point totals: Crosby currently holds the NHL record for youngest player to record 100 points in a season. That's got to carry a lot of weight when Crosby hasn't exactly had the supporting cast around him. Who knows what he would have finished with had Mario and Ziggy had played the full season. Ovechkin was a one man force though who did it all himself. He reached the phenomenal 106 plateau to Crosby's 102.

  • Age Difference: The fact is that what Crosby has done and can do in the NHL is absolutely amazing for an 18 year old. Ovechkin is 21-years-old. Ovechkin is a professional and has been for years. He's played pro hockey in Russia against some really great competition of the equivalent talent level for years. So, for Crosby, he's got to overcome the age barrier bias to be taken seriously. Ovechkin got to learn the game without the setback of "baptism by fire".

  • Head to Head:The Pittsburgh Penguins owned the Washington Capitals this season. If it wasn't for some bone-headed mistakes by Sebastian Caron, the Penguins would have swept the regular season series. On the personal stats, Crosby enjoyed a couple of the best games of his career playing against the Capitals. He had 9 points (3g-6a)in 4 games. Conversely, Ovechkin was continually contained by the Penguins only scoring 6 points (3g-3a).

  • MVP to team: Fans and sports writers can't ignore what Crosby's impact on the Penguins has been. Before the season started, tickets became a hot item. Pundits and other media outlets started talking about the Penguins in what's understood to be a football town. My "Washington Insiders" have expressed to me that attendance at the MCI Center has been lagging and when the Capitals do have a good game, there is nobody there to see it. The future of the team is now for the Penguins. Crosby was granted the "A" for his leadership skills and bonding with linemates like Colby Armstrong. The last players to be given the captainship at age 19 was Steve Yzerman and Joe Thorton. They turned out okay.

  • Skill Set: Crosby makes his teammates better by racking up many more assists than goals. His milestone 100th point came on an assist from the faceoff. Ovechkin has been fantastic in some areas, but quite poor in others. In one lowlight, Ovechkin proved his selfishness by first diving down to block a high shot, but at the last moments bend his knees away and let the puck go past him. One does not need to be an expert to know that when you commit to something like blocking a shot, the proper technique is to follow through with the action. Crosby was feisty and did his best to stick up for himself, which was vastly mischaracterized as crybaby-ism by the haters in the media, he didn't back down from anybody. Crosby was so tough that he played through the pain of minor injuries only to miss one game all season. He had the flu. Ovechkin was disciplined and benched during the year for being a puck hog.
I hope this has made it clear just who is the rookie of the year. The only reason that the mediots who think Ovechkin deserves the Calder is because it should be anybody but Crosby.

And of course, I'm aware of some of the other players who were once thought of as Calder rookie candidates. You can eliminate Marek Svatos, the young Slovak phenom in Colorado because he got hurt in the last couple of months in the season and his publicity faded off too early for the Calder-voting mediots to remember. Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist disappeared at the end of the season and got his team swept in the playoffs, so that disqualifies him.

Sidney Crosby is rookie of the year. Deal with it, haters.

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