They are inseparable now.
Polar opposites personality-wise, Alex Ovechkin, an expressive Russian and Sidney Crosby, the stoic Canadian, are near equals regarding talent, and entered the world 23 months apart (Ovechkin is older). They also made their way into the NHL around the same time (post-owners' lockout), but it was not until recently that the two revealed what will keep them so close in the years to come. That is, of course, the fact that they are hockey's newest rivals, two hot shots with a frigid on-ice relationship.
To be sure, it is a good thing for fans, if not Russian-Canadian barstool arguments. Once tagged with the whiner label, Crosby is billed by the NHL as its next star, but it is Ovechkin who reigns as the People's Choice, playing to the crowd at all costs while delivering sliding goals and into-the-glass celebration jumps. Quietly, Crosby stewed in the past, but on Sunday he loosed his inner thoughts and said, "I don't like it personally but that's him," Crosby said of Ovechkin's histrionics. "And like it or lump it, that's what he does. Some people like it, some people don't. Personally, I don't like it. But you know what, he's a good player."
As SI.com's Michael Farber writes, "While it's nothing like Gordie Howe and Rocket Richard, who shared a position (right wing) in a six-team league, there are enough legs to propel Crosby vs. Ovechkin for at least a decade. Their rivalry is intriguing not because of its ferocity but its subtleties. Like Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, who joined the NBA in 1979, the two share an awareness that the growth of hockey rests jointly on their shoulders. To that extent, they are as much partners in a grand design as they are rivals."
Where does the rivalry go from here? Will Ovechkin mock Crosby? Who wins in a fight? WIll the gloves come off soon?