Friday, February 1, 2008

Is Ovechkin the best athlete in the history of DC area sports?

The Capitals have never had anything close to a superstar. They've had some Hall of Fame caliber players, for the most part before (Larry Murphy, Mike Gartner) or after (Dino Ciccarelli) their primes. But Alexander Ovechkin is miles ahead of anyone they've ever had. He's the MVP of the league right now by a mile and leads the NHL in post-lockout goals by an increasing margin. He's got an absurd 29 goals in his last 30 games and leads the league in goals and points. Sidney Crosby is considered the face of the NHL, but I've heard questions about his attitude; keep in mind he's injured because he complained to a ref instead of bracing to hit the boards. Ovechkin has been a consensus top two player for the last two years, but now he seems to be making the jump to an all time great.

The Orioles have had some Hall of Fame players over the years, most notably Frank and Brooks Robinson, Jim Palmer, and Cal Ripken, Jr. The list of great Bullets begins with Wes Unseld and ends with Elvin Hayes. And the Redskins have won five championships going back to the days of Sammy Baugh, professional football's first superstar. The Terrapins' biggest star over the years was Len Bias, who won two ACC Player of the Year Awards but no Naismiths. Ray Lewis, the face of the Ravens, is maybe the most dominant defensive player in the NFL over the last decade.

Out of these, Baugh is the only consensus most dominant athlete in their sport at one time, although Lewis and Bias were in the argument. Lewis was overshadowed by the dominant skill position guys like Marshall Faulk, Peyton Manning, and Brett Favre, and Bias never made it past the Sweet 16. But every single one I mentioned played in front of bigger crowds than the 14,000 or so that are coming to see the Capitals, and their exploits consistently led local sports. Much like Ovechkin's game last night. If the Caps can make a run to at least the conference finals this year, you have to figure that the fans will come, the Caps will be above the fold in The Post, and Ovechkin will own this city.

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