When Sergei Balashov wrote the attached article blasting Sidney for winning the Rookie of the Month for October, I took exception and responded....Here is my email and his response. I thought it was pretty nice of him to respond, he also made some comments on future Penguin Evgeni Malkin and what we are in store for in the future with him....http://rushockey.com/events.php?i=nhl&stream=nhl_news&id=413
From : Brian Metzer
Sent : Wednesday, November 9, 2005 3:55 PM
To : firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject : Some thoughts on Ovechkin and Crosby
I just read your article about the rookie of the month selection in October. I realize that you are reporting for Russian Hockey Digest and that it is your responsibility to cover Ovechkin and all of the other Russian players in the NHL, however, I think that it is pretty obvious that you haven't watched a single game that Sidney Crosby has played this season. He has been one of, if not the best player on the ice for the Pittsburgh Penguins in most of his games. I think that speaks volumes, considering that he is on a team with Mario Lemieux, Mark Recchi, Ziggy Palffy Sergei Gonchar etc. Ovechkin's situation dictates that he should be one of the best players on his team, being that he plays with the group of mostly "yesterday’s minor leaguers and underachieving players."
History has shown that the player who has more points typically wins the award, goals are only really a factor in cases of a tie. Sydney may not have as many goals as Alexander does, but his points aren't coming on meaningless second assists either. Most of the assists have been beautiful plays, no look passes, setting a teammate up tape to tape for a great scoring opportunity. These are plays that require great skill. Not the product of playing on the power play with Mario Lemieux and company. In fact, of Crosby's 19 points, only 9 have come on the power play. That is 10 points while playing even strength. Crosby is also leading his team of "high profile agents" in scoring.
As for his performance on opening night. Sidney had a great goal scoring opportunity on his first shift and did plenty worth mentioning each time he was on the ice. He was also being shuffled between lines on a team that was struggling to find itself. Now that the Penguins are seemingly pulling themselves out of their season long funk, Crosby's totals will only go up.
You mention that Crosby is on pace for a season of 25 goals and 88 assists(113 pts) which is off of Gretzky's rookie pace of 137 pts(51 G 86 A) and that Ovechkin has a better chance of hitting the Great One's numbers. Well, in looking at Ovechkin's point totals so far,12 goals and 5 assists in 15 games, he is scoring about 1.13 points a game. He is projected to score 93 points for the season, with about 66 goals( averaging .8 per game). If he is somehow able to score 66 goals, he is still only on pace for 93 points, 20 less than Sidney Crosby through 82 games. The award will go to the rookie is who the best all around player and has posted the best numbers. Not to the player who can duplicate Wayne Gretzky's numbers. If being compared to Gretzky has done anything for Sidney, it has caused him more grief, because when he achieves anything at all this season, the media chalks it up to the league not wanting to look bad for the hype surrounding him.
Let it also be known that Sidney Crosby is almost 2 full years younger than Ovechkin. This comparison may go on throughout their career's, but Sidney will be the better overall player. If Ovechkin develops his playmaking and defensive game in the coming seasons we may have more grounds for comparison.
As for Marc Andre Fleury, he will be Pittsburgh's franchise goalie. He is 21 years old and would be in the NHL this season if he didn't have to clear waivers before being sent down to the AHL. He is one of, if not the best goaltender in the AHL this season and the Wilkes Barre Scranton Baby Penguins are unbeaten in their first 12 games! Marc Andre was named the AHL goalie of the month for October posting 6 wins, a 1.17 gaa, and a .955 s%. These are not the kind of numbers that a wash out puts up. Not even Martin Brodeur came right into the NHL and played regularly. Fleury will be with the Penguins for many years and if he didn't sign a $3 million, bonus laden deal under the old Collective Bargaining Agreement, he would be in Pittsburgh right now.
The bottom line is that not every player coming into the league is the next Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, or Patrick Roy. They are the next generation of superstars, Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin, and Marc Andre Fleury. Let these players players play their games and create their own legacies. I do appreciate your work and will continue to follow the site, but just wanted to pass on a couple comments.
Thanks for your time,
From : <email@example.com
Sent : Thursday, November 17, 2005 10:28 AM
To : Brian Metzer
Subject : Re:
first of all oddly enough I'm a Pens fan and so I have watched enough Crosby to get an opinion on the whole crosby-ovechkin thing. And it stays the same. I didn't say Crosby wasn't any good, actually I said he was but not as good as they said he'd be once he comes to the NHL and as of now, not as good as Ovechkin is. You already know my opinion and you know why I think that. As for the Malkin situation, Evgeni Malkin's conrtact will expire in a little bit less than 3 years but I believe he will come over to the NHL in Summer. This is a typical situation with Russian players when their teams demand moneyfrom the NHL in return for the young talents that leave their clubs to play overseas. Guys from Metallurg Mg want about 2 or 3 million for Malkin but the Penguins are hoping they can get Evgeni for less than that. I have a feeling that this problem will be somehow solved in the end of the season. Personally, I can't wait to see Evgeni in the NHL. I've always thought that Malkin is better than Ovechkin in terms of hockey talent. AO is a better scorer, but Malkin is a much better playmaking forward. Still it's a tough call but I believe Malkin will be doing an even better job in the league. Let's just wait and see. Evgeni has a great potential and he has to work harder to play to his fullest ability. He's got the chance to gain some more experience in Russia and grow professionally. I can assure you the Penguins didn't miss out when they lost the draft lottery getting the 2nd overall pick and using it on Malkin. Thank you for sharing your comments and thoughts! We'll continue doing all we can to give you the latest updates and news on Russian hockey.