Crosby, Ovechkin reunited at NHL all-star game: 'They've kind of grown up together'
SUNRISE, Fla. — Alex Ovechkin predicts he will sit down with Sidney Crosby to look back on their careers one day.
His forever rival agrees.
For now, the dynamic duo linked by talent and circumstance since they debuted in the NHL, still have plenty of unfinished business on the ice.
Both players — in their 18th seasons — dream of once again hoisting the Stanley Cup, while Ovechkin is on a relentless push to break Wayne Gretzky's all-time goal record.
Crosby has 1,469 career points. Ovechkin has 1,464.
Their trophy cases are equally jam-packed with personal accolades.
The pair have been involved in epic playoff encounters, but also know the clock is ticking on their Hall of Fame careers.
"It's definitely something that I appreciate more and more with every year," Crosby, the Pittsburgh Penguins captain, said of his journey largely mirroring that of Ovechkin. "Just being able to compete against him all these years and seeing what he continues to do, to see that first-hand year after year is pretty unique."
Because of health and other reasons, Crosby, 35, and Ovechkin, 37, are set to play in just their fourth all-star game together Saturday.
"He's still enjoying playing hockey," said Ovechkin, whose 812 career goals are just 82 short of Gretzky's mark. "I'm still enjoying playing hockey."
Crosby is eager to see the Washington Capitals captain match and surpass the Great One.
"He's well on his way to get the record," said the Cole Harbour, N.S., product, who was slated to take part in Friday's breakaway challenge with Ovechkin during the skills competition.
"Hopefully he does it."
The stable of NHL stars on hand for the all-star festivities in South Florida are mesmerized by the two superstars they most watched on TV as youngsters.
"They've kind of grown up together," Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid said. "Lots of great playoff battles, and they both won. It's been really cool to see as a fan, that battle.
"To see how much respect they have for each other as well, it's great."
Ottawa Senators captain Brady Tkachuk and older brother Matthew, who stars for the Florida Panthers, were both at Crosby's first all-star game in Dallas in 2007.
"To be here and talk to them, it's what you dreamed about as a kid," Brady Tkachuk said. "It's a lot of fun."
First time all-star Kevin Hayes of the Philadelphia Flyers said the symmetry of Crosby and Ovechkin's paths is hard to wrap your head around.
"It's been Sid and Ovie ever since they entered the league," he said. "When you watch when they first get to the league, you don't expect to ever play against them, and then you finally do.
"Those are cool moments you don't forget about."
Toronto Maple Leafs star Mitch Marner said the Pittsburgh-Washington playoff encounters — at their bitterest height — was appointment viewing, including when both Crosby and Ovechkin registered hat tricks in the same game in 2009.
"It's been nuts, really, just the battle between the two, the hatred early on in their career," Marner said. "Still probably one of my favourite games of all time was the back-to-back hatties.
Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, whose Atlantic Division will take on Crosby and Ovechkin's Metropolitan Division team in one of Saturday's all-star semifinals, said the greats have used a simple formula that's nearly impossible to duplicate over nearly two decades.
"They're pretty consistent," Vasilevskiy said. "A great example for young guys. It's not that hard to play one or two seasons good. But to play 10, 15 years at the highest level, it's pretty impressive.
"It's all about consistency.”
That might be one of the topics the Crosby and Ovechkin discuss when they're both done with a sport they've dominated.
"I'm pretty sure when me and him are going to be retired, we're gonna have a couple of beers together," Ovechkin said. "Talk about the whole thing and what happened."
And would Crosby be keen to chat?
"Oh yeah," he replied with a grin. "We've got a lot to catch up on there."
CROSBY TALKS BEDARD
The first pick at the 2005 NHL draft, like much of the hockey world, has been impressed with the rise of Connor Bedard, who's widely expected to go No. 1 in June.
"He's getting the attention that the other Connor did," Crosby said in reference to McDavid. "He just continues to meet expectations — they're high — but you see him play and you see what he can do."
Crosby skated with Bedard, who dominated the recent world junior hockey championship with a record-breaking performance that helped Canada win his 20th gold medal, in the summer and offered rave reviews.
"No weaknesses," he said of the 17-year-old. "It's pretty cool to see someone that age as dominant as he is."
Crosby said the confidence Bedard has in both his game and himself leaps off the page.
"He wants the challenge," Crosby said. "When you're in that position, it's not easy sometimes. There's a lot of pressure and a lot of eyes. Everyone's trying to break your game down or are critical of certain things.
"I think he welcomes that. That's important to have because it's not going to get any easier."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 3, 2023.
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Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press