Crosby and Ovechkin to get company as face of the NHL

Mon Oct 6, 2014 5:17pm EDT
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By Frank Pingue

(Reuters) - Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin are the National Hockey League's marquee players of their generation but must now make room in the elite club after enduring a string of playoff misfortunes.

The Pittsburgh Penguins won the Stanley Cup in 2009 with Crosby the centerpiece of a talented team that surely expected to win at least a couple more by now but have since only reached the penultimate round of the playoffs once.

Ovechkin's goal-scoring prowess with the Washington Capitals has made him one of the most dangerous forwards in the game when he wants to be but his team has never advanced beyond the second round of the playoffs since he made his debut in 2005.

In the meantime, Jonathan Toews, who is the 26-year-old leader and lifeblood of a Chicago Blackhawks team that won two of the last five Stanley Cups and was a goal away from competing for another last season, has emerged as an ultimate winner.

The NHL has long since caught on as Toews and the Blackhawks will visit Ovechkin's Capitals on New Year's Day for the outdoor Winter Classic, an annual event that has grown bigger than the Stanley Cup in the eyes of many sports executives.

Crosby came into the league in 2005 billed as "The Next One" and heir apparent to Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky, who was known as "The Great One," and was tearing up the league until missing nearly an entire season from 2010-2012 with concussion symptoms.

But the 27-year-old Canadian has since returned to top form and won the Hart Memorial Trophy last season as the NHL's most valuable player after leading all players with 104 points.

Crosby has Olympic gold medals in 2010 and 2014 to go along with his Stanley Cup while Ovechkin's resume in the team category is slight by comparison.   Continued...

May 13, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) reacts as the New York Rangers celebrate a goal by Rangers center Brian Boyle (not pictured) during the first period in game seven of the second round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the CONSOL Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports