And that's why it is worth of admission. :-)
By Mike Milbury, Oct. 30, 2009:
Please don't wax poetic about Hull and Howe and Shore. Today's players are bigger, stronger, faster, better conditioned, better coached and with better equipment. The players of the 50s couldn't keep up. And there’s so many of them that you don't need to consult the standings to name a bunch of them. Kopitar in LA. Bobby Ryan in Anaheim. Duchene and O'Reilly in Colorado. Toews and Kane in Chicago. Stamkos in Tampa. Kovalchuk in Atlanta. Gaborik in New York. Parise in New Jersey. Crosby and Malkin and Fleury in Pittsburgh. And on and on.
But it is in Washington where the new generation’s poster boy resides. Hey, Alex Semin, Nick Backstrom and Mike Green are all stars in their own right, but the lightning rod is Alex Ovechkin.
The attraction? He is the next Mr. Hockey, the newly-defined Mr. Hockey. The computerized, twittered, facebooked, instantly gratified and accessible Mr. Hockey.
Why? It might be because he embodies effort on every shift. It could be his courage to be vulnerable to make a play or to confront the behemoths of the NHL. Maybe it's his ability to create a dangerous play when there seems nothing available. Or it could be his ability to release the puck with frightening speed and velocity. Really, is there a flaw? He celebrates too much? Yikes, what a cad.
The gift of Orr
I had the privilege of watching Bobby Orr first-hand. He had the same qualities as Ovechkin. The courage, speed, creativity, skill and ability to defy convention that makes us enraptured. Gifts given to a few, not just in the NHL, but in the history of pro sports.
And Ovechkin takes it a step further. He shares his joy. It's been a long time since I scored and NHL goal ... go ahead and snicker, but how many did you get? But when Ovechkin plays and scores, I relive that elation and share in his. Even the casual fan cannot help but be sucked into the World According to Ovechkin when Alex is on display.
It matters not to me that some would say Ovechkin needs to pass the test of time and earn rings to claim his place in the pantheon of hockey gods. Bull. He is there already and I can't get enough of him.
Mad Mike is a second person I know of who compares Ovechkin to Bobby Orr. The first one was from Kevin Dupond, March 23, 2009:
Beyond question, the 23-year-old Ovechkin is the game's most exciting player, and with nearly a half-century of watching the game as a reference point, I'm going to say he's the most exciting player the game has ever seen. The only other two that come close, as far as I'm concerned, are Bobby Orr, the iconic Bruins defenseman, and Pavel Bure...