Friday, November 09, 2007

One of a kind...

Let me start by saying this…Sidney Crosby is a sublime hockey player, perhaps the best of this generation and with a plaque already waiting for him in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

But hey…you guys in NHL marketing…you folks over at Versus…we know you’re trying really hard, but maybe you’ve put too many eggs in one basket to sell this league.

Caps Chick notes in A View from the Cheap Seats a couple of snippets from the life that is Alexander Ovechkin’s, taken from a report in the Ottawa Sun

“…[Ovechkin] took the time to go into the hallway - in his underwear - and read a couple of lines of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas for a feature TSN does each year. Alexander Ovechkin read the lines at least a half-dozen times, laughed while doing it and when he was thanked by Brent Wallace of TSN, replied ‘No problem.’ And you wonder what makes a guy a pro."

“[F]ormer NHLer Bob Probert was outside the Caps dressing room after the game. He introduced himself to Ovechkin. The star walked away and asked somebody, "Grobert? Who's Grobert?’”

If you go to the blog, Alexander Ovechkin, you’ll see that he is a quote machine, sure, but also that he is precisely the sort of infectious personality wrapped around world-class talent that this league desperately needs to sell its product.

As we suggested, Sidney Crosby sits at the top of the heap – talent-wise – in this league. As a hockey fan, I love watching the kid play. But he has the personality, at least for public consumption, of oatmeal that’s been sitting on the kitchen table for a while. I can’t fault Crosby for that. By any measure, he is a community-oriented, earnest, humble, personable sort…at least from any report of him I read. He is a fine young man, certainly mature beyond his years in dealing with the pressure and the spotlight. And perhaps the combination of his youth and the spotlight always being on him lends to a preference for care in the manner in which he presents himself to the public. But for whatever reason, there seems to be this wall around him, which leaves him like a talent in a glass case – there for the watching, but not much else.

On the other hand, there is Ovechkin, whose improving English, natural effervescence, and timing make him not only quotable, but magnetic. His quotes aren’t the edgy sort that made Brett Hull a favorite of journalists, and he doesn’t seem to be the more “look at me” sort that too often seemed to characterize Jeremy Roenick’s public image. His are more of the entertaining "did he really say that?" variety that leaves folks alternately smiling and scratching their head.

Ovechkin is one of a kind. There is the “twinkle in his eye” image that surrounds his game and off-ice antics that stands in stark relief to the cold “eye of the shark” image in Crosby’s game and persona.

While there are a lot of fine youngsters in the league -- the brothers Staal (Eric and Jordan, with perhaps more to come), Paul Stastny, Ryan Getzlaf, Evgeni Malkin, Anze Kopitar, Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, to name but a few -- who will be competing for trophies and press accolades, Ovechkin and Crosby are at the front of the line and very well could be for years to come.

If these guys were TV shows, Ovechkin would be the classic comedy -- well done, with good humor and a message (that being, I’m a pretty good hockey player). Crosby would be an episode from Masterpiece Theater – artfully done but often just a bit cold and distant. One might be technically “better” than the other, but this isn’t a technical issue. Which would you rather watch with a bunch of friends?

2 comments:

Doug Benskin (dougeb) said...

Well done again, Peerless. Yes, Crosby is world-class but the difference in personality is dramatic. I'm a true Caps fan and not apologetic. I'm not always analytical in my views. I would say that both Ovechkin and Crosby are worthy of huge media coverage, but Ovechkin does not receive nearly as much as Crosby. Daresay there is a bias? Or is it because of perceived cosmetics, e.g. "good looks" or is it becuase of perceived language skill sets?
I'm not sure, but I am sick to death of "Crosby....Crosby....Crosby".

OrderedChaos said...

Excellent and well-presented point Peerless! I have nothing personal against Crosby -- too many Caps fans IMO are rabidly anti-Sid just because of the jersey he wears. Yeah, his diving/whining is irritating, but he seems to be maturing. Off-ice he's fine... but "fine" is hardly a headline-grabbing personality.

The league needs to leverage all its assets; not, as you point out, put all the PR eggs in the Crosby basket... particularly not when terrific & engaging character like Ovechkin is ready and willing.