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NHL All-Star Game

Older Crosby Appreciates All-Star Game ‘More & More’; Prefers Change to Playoffs



Pittsburgh Penguins, Sidney Crosby

SUNRISE, Fla. — As the two age, NHL superstars Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin appear to be growing closer together.

The duo came into the league in the same season. Ovechkin was drafted first overall by the Washington Capitals in 2004 before a lockout wiped out what would have been his rookie campaign. Crosby was the top pick in 2005 when the Pittsburgh Penguins won the post-lockout sweepstakes.

The two are about as decorated as NHL players could be, both winning the Stanley Cup — Crosby three times — and earning multiple MVP honors.

“It is definitely something that I appreciate more and more every year,’’ Crosby said before the NHL All-Star Skills at FLA Live Arena on Friday afternoon.

“Just being able to compete against him all these years and seeing what he continues to do, to just see that firsthand is pretty unique. It has been cool to kind of share over the years.”

Yet as they enter another All-Star Weekend together, their two teams are locked in a battle for the final playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.

Neither player, really, is used to playing for a postseason berth at this time of year.

Seeding in the Eastern Conference, sure, but just making the playoffs?

“It is hard to say at what points of a season we were in this spot, but I think the league as a whole is super-tight,’’ Crosby said. “Boston, of course, is kind of a different breed right now. But I think everyone else, on a nightly basis, knows they are in for a fight regardless of where they are in the standings.’’

And count Crosby as one who would like to go back to the 1-8 playoff format.

“The regular season is difficult as it is, and the top teams should be rewarded,” he said. “That’s probably the best way to be rewarded — although there isn’t a ton of difference. I like that version a little bit better.”

The Penguins and Capitals come into this break holding the final two playoff spots in the East.

As the wild card teams, both are looking ahead in the Metropolitan Division standings to see who they could catch — while also trying to fend off a horde of potential challengers.

Right now, Washington holds the top wild card with 60 points but has played three more games than the Penguins who sit in the second wild card spot with 57 points.

Buffalo, the Islanders, and Florida are all within three points of the Pens.

As for the relationship Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby have established over the years, it appears the two have grown closer with a clear appreciation for their on-ice rivalries and their respective on-ice accomplishments.

While Crosby marvels at Ovechkin chasing down Wayne Gretzky’s goal record, which was previously thought to be unbreakable, Ovechkin said Thursday that he would like to sit down with Sid and share a beer one day.

Just to talk about the old times — while the current ones unfold.

And, just for fun, the two are teaming up in the Breakaway Challenge event in Friday’s Skills as this is just the fourth time the two have been at an All-Star Game together.

Both have backed out in the past, but neither hinted at doing so for this one.

“Yeah, that’s just kind of the way it has worked out,” Crosby said. “It is always great. We played against each other for a long time, but to share some experiences with each other like this is pretty unique.

“We have obviously had some pretty big games against each other with a microscope on us. To have a relaxed atmosphere like this, where we can catch up a bit, it’s nice to share that with him.”

Sidney Crosby at 2023 NHL All-Star Game: