Mark Madden

Mark Madden

The Super Genius of Pittsburgh Sports.Full Bio



Sidney Crosby says Edmonton’s Connor McDavid is the best player in hockey. Toronto Coach Mike Babcock says it’s Crosby. Crosby’s teammates say it’s Crosby. Here’s betting McDavid’s teammates back McDavid.

And so it goes, an inexact subject chasing its own tail.

It’s an impossible question to definitively answer, especially when factors like the past, present, points, Stanley Cups, age and the eye test are squished together into one discussion.

Once the points and Cups are totaled, then you can better draw a bead.

But nothing is guaranteed. Players like McDavid, Nathan MacKinnon and Auston Matthews seem like sure bets for the long term.

But Eric Lindros was supposed to be the next legend. He was projected as the successor to Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux.

Oh, Lindros was very good: 865 points in 760 games. But concussions intervened. Lindros only played more than 65 games in a season four times. He never won the Stanley Cup. He retired at 34. To some degree, Lindros disappointed.

Lindros made the Hockey Hall of Fame.

But Gretzky and Lemieux, Lindros wasn’t.

The real debate right now should be between the phenoms, namely McDavid, MacKinnon and Matthews. McDavid is the clear-cut front-runner until one of the other two wins and McDavid still hasn’t.

Crosby has the career accomplishments, including three Cups.

Like Babcock said, "Team success in the end, that's how you're measured. When you've been the best player on the best team, to me that's totally different than being the best player on a team that's not as good.”

Amen. And despite starting this season slow statistically, Crosby will get his numbers.

BTW, Evgeni Malkin has 12 points in six games. He leads the NHL in points per game. Operating in the shadows, as Malkin prefers.

Photos courtesy of GettyImages

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