Opposing coaches cast votes for Penguins’ Sidney Crosby in best-in-the-world debate |

Opposing coaches cast votes for Penguins’ Sidney Crosby in best-in-the-world debate

Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins’ Sidney Crosby to the face off circle against the Capitals in the first period Thursday, Oct. 4, 2018 at PPG Paints Arena.

TORONTO – The debate over who is the best hockey player in the world is a contentious one these days.

Sidney Crosby has the trophy case and the all-around game.

Edmonton’s Connor McDavid has the back-to-back scoring titles and blinding speed.

Toronto’s Auston Matthews, with multiple points in every game he’s played so far this season, is trying to stick his nose into the conversation.

There’s one area where the topic will not be debated, though. That’s behind the benches when the Pittsburgh Penguins and Toronto Maple Leafs square off Thursday night.

Mike Sullivan and Mike Babcock both cast unwavering votes for Crosby after morning skate.

“I think one guy’s got two Olympic gold medals and three Stanley Cups,” Babcock said.

Babcock said he considers McDavid an “absolute star,” but he places more weight on the team success Crosby has achieved.

“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,” Babcock said. “You’ve got people around you to raise their game and set a standard. To me, it’s not even close.”

Sullivan, as he always does when the topic is broached, made note of Crosby’s competitiveness.

“He’s deserving of all the accolades he’s received,” Sullivan said. “He’s certainly the heartbeat of this team.”

Is he still the best in the world?

“In my opinion, he is, yes,” Sullivan said.

Babcock took it one step further. He said he’s not sure when the seemingly inevitable passing of the torch from the 31-year-old Crosby to the 21-year-old McDavid will take place.

“(Nicklas Lidstrom) was, I thought, the best defenseman in the game at 40,” Babcock said. “You can say the game’s changed quite a bit, but he can still flat out fly. I don’t think he plans on giving anything away.”

Follow the Pittsburgh Penguins all season long.

Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jonathan at [email protected] or via Twitter @BombulieTrib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.