Originally posted to KP’s Blog (via Fox Sports) on April 28, 2009
When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are. Anything your heart desires will come to you.”
Alexander Ovechkin, “Ovie” to many, the human highlight reel and scoring machine for the Washington Capitals, was the first overall draft pick in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.
Sidney Crosby, “Sid the Kid” to many, a points accumulator and a “can’t miss” talent, was the first overall draft pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft.
Enter the league labor stoppage during the 2004-2005 season, and the result is each playing his first game as a rookie during the same season.
Neither disappointed, and while Ovechkin was awarded the Calder Memorial Trophy that year (for top rookie), the Kobe-or-LeBron-like argument would begin, NHL style.
A few short seasons later, each not only had lived up to the hype of being a top draft pick, but also have been tabbed the future of the NHL. And the future became now, with each franchise vaulting itself back into the playoff world rather quickly.
“If your heart is in your dream, no request is too extreme. When you wish upon a star, as dreamers do.”
And with the renewed rise of relevant hockey in Pittsburgh and Washington, along came the endless drooling attacks from the NHL’s top execs. This was a dream match, a marketer’s dream, not just matching up two young superstars, but two franchises that once duked it out during some intriguing playoff battles in the late 90’s. If only they could meet on the big stage.
Alas, the 2008 playoffs came and went, and the matchup wasn’t meant to be, as while the Penguins moved on (eventually reaching the Stanley Cup Finals, where they lost in six to Detroit), the Caps faltered in an overtime early round Game 7 against the Philadelphia Flyers.
The dream was gone quicker than you can say “zamboni”.
“Fate is kind. She brings to those who love the sweet fulfillment of their secret longing.”
Enter the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs, with Washington in as a two seed, and Pittsburgh a solid four. After recently overcoming a 3-1 deficit to the New York Rangers, the Caps took Game 7 with a game-winner by Sergei Fedorov with under four minutes to go, sealing Washington’s advancement to the next round. The Penguins were moving on too, after taking out the Flyers in six games.
But the matchup of “Ovie” and “Sid the Kid” looked likely to need another two series victories to happen, including a Pittsburgh defeat of top-seeded Boston, as the Devils had themselves a one-goal Game 7 lead with a minute and a half to play.
Yes, it looked like a choke bigger than the Sharks would be needed.
“Like a bolt out of the blue, fate steps in and sees you through. When you wish upon a star, your dreams come true.”
Ironically, in a storm-like occurrence, the walls came crashing down on the Devils. Carolina had stolen away Game 7 from New Jersey, scoring twice in the final 80 seconds.
Game, set, match. The ‘Canes move on to play Boston, and Pittsburgh will face Washington. Crosby will face Ovechkin in the playoffs.
So here we are, the NHL gets its wish, with Ovechkin (2nd in the NHL in points and 1st in goals) facing Crosby (3rd in points and 2nd in assists this year).
And while it may only be the semifinals, hockey has a matchup that it can promote, in hopes to generate some much needed pub in a time when many are focusing on the likes of Kobe, LeBron, the NBA, Major League Baseball, or just the overall thawing of the country as summer begins to present us with its friendly face.
No, the NHL wants you to go cold my friends. Pop open a cold one, kick your feet back, put your life on ice. Enjoy hockey for a change. Take in Ovechkin vs. Crosby in a playoff atmosphere.
The only thing better, would be these two going head-to-head in the Cup Finals, but hey, that simply can’t be. The next best thing? It’s seven games, and a PR dream that can help try and put the NHL back on the map in any way, shape, or form.
The NHL didn’t just wish upon a star, but two stars – and hockey will get its wish, as Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin will face off in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
The madness begins this Saturday, when the Pens and Caps face off in Washington. The question remains, are you intrigued enough to watch?