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|Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Stanley Cup immortality
12 èþíÿ 2017 ãîäà. Yahoo-Sports. Greg Wyshynski
NASHVILLE – The first 100 years of the NHL have been filled with iconic images, from Bobby Orr’s leap to Gretzky’s tears.
Submitted for your approval, as an addition to that pantheon: Evgeni Malkin on the left, Sidney Crosby on the right, and the Stanley Cup being smooched in between them as they hold it together.
For there isn’t a more appropriate way to convey how these three championships they’ve won for the Pittsburgh Penguins since 2009 are born of two fathers: The hulking 30-year-old Russian who skates like a freight train on one side, and the 29-year-old from Cole Harbour who skates like nothing can stop him from achieving glory on the other. In some ways, total opposites. Yet, together, they carry the championship with the help of the other.
They are Gretzky and Messier. They are Mario and Jagr. They are the foundation for everything the Pittsburgh Penguins build towards a championship team, for they are the reason the Pittsburgh Penguins know that no matter what adversity visits them, they can be a championship team.
“They’re generational players. They’re different players, but they’re both elite in their own way,” said coach Mike Sullivan. “I don’t know that you could find two better people to build a team around than these two guys.”
GM Jim Rutherford took over the Penguins in 2014 knowing that with Malkin and Crosby there, he could win another Stanley Cup. And now he’s won two with them, and couldn’t stop singing their praises on Sunday night after their Game 6 win over the Nashville Predators.
“In Sid’s case, I think now we can talk about him being in those top two, three, four guys of all-time. He’s a special player. He’s a special person. He’s won three Cups now. Two Conn Smythe trophies back to back. He’s in that group for me,” he said of Crosby, who was recently named as one of the Top 100 NHL players of all-time.
Malkin, infamously, wasn’t.
“You’d think that Geno could get into the top 100, wouldn’t ya? Maybe we can vote again and get him in the top 101 this year. I mean … wow,” said Rutherford. “I’ll just leave that alone for now. That was so disappointing for me, but that’s a whole ‘nother story.”
But that’s Crosby and Malkin for you: In many ways equals, in other ways it’s like they’re in different area codes.
There have been times in their careers when Malkin and Crosby were used as linemates, but in the last few seasons its been the Crosby Line and the Malkin Line.
The former has Sid playing with a rotating cast of young player, dispelling the notion that he “can’t play with everyone” by meshing with the likes of Bryan Rust, Conor Sheary and Jake Guentzel during these Cup wins.
The latter has Geno playing with Phil Kessel and a few other wingers, providing near-constant offense and at times dominating play.
Occasionally, hockey fans and punditry will get all “Lennon vs. McCartney” with these guys, especially the Malkin fans who grumble about him constantly being in the shadow of Crosby. Like, for example, when Malkin ended up leading the NHL playoffs in points (28) this postseason but Crosby won the Conn Smythe with one fewer point – his second playoff MVP award in two seasons when falling short of the team lead in points. (Malkin won the Conn Smythe after the Penguins’ first Cup.)
But if Crosby had a Conn Smythe ballot, who would he vote for?
“I think Geno comes to mind right away,” he said.
The thing that the Team Geno and Team Sid folks always miss is that one is essential to the other’s success.
Sid doesn’t accomplish what he has in the NHL without Malkin, and vice versa. To have an opponent worrying about a second greatest of all-time player in the lineup changes life for both Malkin and Crosby. It’s a luxury no other star has in the modern NHL on the level that Malkin and Crosby have it – with due respect for Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.
The other aspect of their coexistence is that they push each other more than any player in the League could push them. This is something Sullivan’s witnessed in overseeing their consecutive championships.
“I really believe in just my time here with both guys, they’ve grown to be appreciative for one another and how they help each other have success and this team. And so when there are nights when maybe Sid might not have his A game, that Geno steps up and helps this team win and vice versa. There are other nights where Geno might not have his A game and Sid steps up and makes a big play to help this team win,” he said.