Opposing coaches cast votes for Penguins’ Sidney Crosby in best-in-the-world debate
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.”
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jonathan at [email protected] or via Twitter @BombulieTrib.