by PuckStopsHere on 03/03/10 at 01:13 PM ET
I think the Olympic performance of two players cemented them in as Hall of Famers, regardless of anything that happens in the future of their careers. Yesterday, I wrote about Jarome Iginla. In the comments section, I was asked about the other one - Sidney Crosby. I didn’t address why he was not on my Hall of Fame list yesterday, because in fact he is. I wanted to have separate posts for Iginla and Crosby - and at this point I feel Iginla has a slightly better Hall of Fame case so I wrote his first.
Sidney Crosby has been in the NHL for four and two thirds seasons approximately. This is a rather short tenure to have a Hall of Fame career, but he has done it. In that time, Crosby has a Hart and Art Ross Trophy. He has a Stanley Cup victory. He now has an Olympic victory, where he scored the gold medal winning goal.
Sidney Crosby is often in the debate about who the best player in the NHL is along with Alexander Ovechkin. Although I feel Ovechkin is the rightful winner of that debate, it makes Crosby the clear number two player in the league and he is close enough to first that debate continues.
The inevitable Ovechkin comparison exists with the points I consider them for Hall of Fame induction. I picked out Alexander Ovechkin late last season, when it became clear that he was going to be a two-time Hart Trophy winner. Ovechkin has significantly more individual awards than Crosby. Ovechkin has two Hart Trophies to one of Crosby. Ovechkin has two Richard Trophies to none of Crosby. Ovechkin has four first all star berths to one of Crosby. Ovechkin won the Calder Trophy in their rookie season. Looking at this season, Ovechkin is ahead in scoring and is the favorite for a third Hart Trophy. It is clear that Ovechkin has the stronger Hall of Fame case, but Crosby has a strong one as well.
Sidney Crosby has approximately the same point per game scoring rate in his career as Ovechkin, though injuries have him with less total games played. Crosby has had more team success than Ovechkin. Of course that is more likely due to having stronger teammates. It is Crosby’s Olympic winning goal that cements his position as a future Hall of Famer.
The Olympic winning goal is one of the most important goals to Canadian hockey history. I would rank it second to the Paul Henderson goal in 1972, but an argument could be made that it is first. The goal goes a long way to making Sidney Crosby a legend. Of course inducting a player to the Hall of Fame over one goal is a crazy thing to do, unless he has the career to back it up (for example Paul Henderson is not there and he likely never will be). That goal showed just how fine a line it is between hero and failure. As Canada entered overtime in the gold medal game, Crosby had not scored in three games. Had Canada lost, he would have received a lot of blame for not stepping up and scoring when the games were important. With one goal, all of that is replaced with an image of success and adulation from the fans.
Sidney Crosby would not be a Hall of Famer now without his strong career that has made him the clear second best player in the league (with Hart Trophy success) and a serious member of the debate (rivalry) to be the NHL’s best player. The Olympic winning goal pushes his Hall of Fame case forward, but without a strong case on which to build a foundation, it would be nowhere near enough.
Sidney Crosby is well on his way to having one of the greatest careers in hockey history. Should something happen and he fails, he has still had a strong enough career in four complete and one partial NHL season. That is a tremendous accomplishment. I think he is a Hall of Famer regardless of what happens in the rest of his career.
The addition of Sidney Crosby to my Hall of Fame list brings us to 17 active players with Hall of Fame credentials. Here is the list:
As hockey season is still underway, it is possible that this list may grow. Likely it will be trimmed by some retirements this summer (if not sooner in the case of Peter Forsberg).
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