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

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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?

Blackhawks’ Boris Katchouk sidelined by ankle sprain

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CHICAGO — Blackhawks forward Boris Katchouk will be sidelined for four to six weeks with a left ankle sprain, the team announced.

The 24-year-old Katchouk played almost 12 minutes during a 3-0 preseason loss to Detroit on Saturday night. He was acquired in a multiplayer trade with Tampa Bay in March.

The Blackhawks open the season on Oct. 12 at Colorado.

The team also said forward Jujhar Khaira is day to day with a right ankle injury.

Ducks’ Urho Vaakanainen crashes into boards, leaves on stretcher

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Ducks defenseman Urho Vaakanainen was taken off the Honda Center ice on a stretcher after he crashed into the end boards in the first period of Anaheim’s preseason game against the San Jose Sharks.

The Finnish defenseman was conscious and alert with full movement in his extremities at UCI Medical Center, the Ducks said.

The frightening incident occurred midway through the opening period when Vaakanainen smashed into the boards at a dangerous speed behind the Sharks’ net. Vaakanainen appeared to be concentrating on the pass he had just made to Derek Grant, who scored the Ducks’ opening goal on the assist.

Vaakanainen’s teammates came onto the ice and gathered around him as he was taken away on the stretcher.

The Ducks acquired the 23-year-old Vaakanainen from Boston last March in the deal that sent longtime Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm to the Bruins. After recording two assists in 14 games for the Ducks last season, Vaakanainen is attempting to win a top-six role on Anaheim’s defense this fall.

Lightning donate $2 million to Hurricane Ian relief efforts

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TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lightning and team owner Jeff Vinik are donating $2 million toward Hurricane Ian relief efforts.

The NHL team announced that $1 million each will be donated by the Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation and the Vinik Family Foundation.

“This is a tragic situation for many families and communities across the state of Florida, but especially so in the southwest region of the state,” Vinik said in a statement released by the team. “In times like these the most important thing we can do is support one another, and we hope this donation will help families recover and rebuild in the months to come.”

Ian made landfall Wednesday on Florida’s Gulf Coast, south of the Tampa Bay area. The Lightning postponed two home preseason games and moved the club’s training camp to Nashville, Tennessee, during the storm.

Maple Leafs sign defenseman Rasmus Sandin to 2-year deal

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TORONTO — Rasmus Sandin has signed a two-year, $2.8 million contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the club announced on Thursday.

The 22-year-old from Sweden was the 29th overall selection in the 2018 draft. Sandin had 16 points in 51 games with Toronto last season. He’s played in 88 career regular-season games, with six goals and 22 assists, and has one goal in five playoff games.

“Got a great set of tools,” fellow defenseman Jake Muzzin said. “With experience, I think they’re only going to get better.”

The signing comes as the Leafs’ blueliners been hit hard by injuries. Muzzin has been dealing with a back issue, and Timothy Liljegren recently had surgery for a hernia.

Toronto then lost Jamie Benn (groin) and Carl Dahlstrom (shoulder) in Wednesday’s 3-0 preseason victory over the Montreal Canadiens, pressing forwards Calle Jarnkrok and Alexander Kerfoot into defensive roles for two periods.