With all these comparisons flying around, this week we're going to cut through the crud and make a call. Given two players, one active and one retired, in their primes, who would be better? And the best part of it is that you, the user, get the final word.
For our second installment, how about: The two best players of their generation, if not the two best players in the history of the game in Sidney Crosby and Wayne Gretzky. This is such a timeless comparison, we're going to do it again, only more lo-fi..
The case for Sidney Crosby: Crosby, 25, has won one Stanley Cup (in his fourth season), one Olympic gold medal, one Art Ross Trophy, one Hart Memorial and one Richard trophy. He has been the game's premier player since he rode into the league on a tidal wave of hype that formed back when he was a peewee in Nova Scotia. Because of the skill he has, the points he puts up and the way he sees the play develop ahead of him, he was touted as the next Gretzky, and he's come as close as anyone to living up to that impossible billing. He hasn't shied away from the spotlight and has a quiet, classy fortitude like Gretzky's. He plays bigger than his size. Regardless, Crosby has grit, exemplified when he didn't back off in the least after suffering a broken jaw off a deflected shot in a truly gruesome and graphic injury (there go his teeth!) that would have given lesser superstars second thoughts about jumping back on the ice. He has few failings, but being susceptible to injury -- he's never played a full season, although he came within one game twice -- and sometimes being easy to get off his game with yapping are the two most noteworthy. But few players dominate -- or dominated -- like Crosby does.
The case for Wayne Gretzky: Where to start? How about where it counts most: Gretzky won four Stanley Cups and lost in the finals twice. He won eight consecutive Hart trophies as MVP and nine in total. Nine. He won 10 Art Ross Trophies as leading scorer -- 10 -- including seven consecutive. He obliterated every scoring record in the book. He averaged more than a point a game in every one of his 20 seasons except one, which was his last. Heck, in two seasons the guy had more goals than he had games played. In one season, he scored 92 goals. In another, he had 215 points. In that same season, he had 163 assists, which was more than the total points of Mario Lemieux, who was second. He could see the ice like no other, hardly ever got hit (in fact, he was so elusive that one of the few checks to catch him with his head down created a latter-day YouTube celebrity out of an otherwise unremarkable player), largely avoided injury during an era when goonery was a fine art and his helmet was pretty much made out of reinforced cardboard, posted all those points while wearing heavier equipment than used today, and wasn't known as a goal scorer but just happens to be the league's all-time leading scorer. He was indeed the Great One.
Which player would you rather have in his prime? Give us your specific thoughts in the comments section below. Out on a limb, people!