Toews or Crosby?

Toews or Crosby.

Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks. Image Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

You want points and Art Ross Trophies, Sidney Crosby is your man; the finest scorer in the National Hockey League.

So, when offering up an opinion about who’s better, Jonathan Toews or Crosby, most folks’ will answer quickly with, “Sidney Crosby is the best player in the world.” And they’re not wrong. But they may not be right, either.

Crosby is the man. He’s accumulated inspiring point totals and personal accolades, as well as, team achievement with the Pittsburgh Penguins and gold medals on the international stage. Sidney Crosby’s resume is as impressive as anyone’s and more superior than most.

And you’d raise a large fuss if you argued that Crosby isn’t as much of a winner as Toews, citing the Penguins recent Stanley Cup playoffs blunders as an example. Can one realistically place Pittsburgh’s five-year Cup drought solely on the shoulders of their captain, Crosby? It takes more than one great player to win the Stanley Cup.

That being said, regarding the question: Toews or Crosby? There is a growing segment of the population that will tell you the answer to that question is Jonathan Toews, captain of the Chicago Blackhawks. And no one’s picking Toews over Crosby because of offensive acumen, that’s for sure.

Toews has become the quintessential leader of all leaders in the National Hockey League. He is the Messier to Crosby’s Gretzky in an era where flashy point totals mean less and less every time the Boston Bruins and Los Angeles Kings win the Cup with high-quality depth; without a so-called top tier offensive weapon on Crosby’s wavelength.

The Hockey News claims Toews is, “perhaps the most respected player in the NHL.”

When tackling the topic: Toews or Crosby? The Toronto Sun said, “I’m taking Jonathan Toews.”

Florida Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo — who has played with and against Toews at the Olympics and in the Stanley Cup playoffs — said on TSN‘s esteemed hockey panel, that Toews was, “the guy who was talking the most in the locker room throughout the whole tournament in the Olympics.”

Luongo is referring to the 2014 Sochi Olympics, at which Canada won gold on a Jonathan Toews game-winner. Crosby also scored in the gold medal game against Sweden. Canada won 3-0.

Crosby wore the captain’s ‘C’ for Team Canada in Sochi, but Toews was clearly a key leader, as well. Which is not surprising because Toews has captained a Stanley Cup winner twice and he’s only 25-years-old. But he’ll never tell you he deserves more praise than his teammates, who he often humbly credits for his own personal success.

Watch Toews downplay the notion that he’s better than Crosby by crediting the great team around him:

Toews’s nickname Captain Serious was bestowed upon him when he was a young player in the NHL, before he ever won a Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe. Now, not only is Toews winning all of professional hockey’s top prizes, he’s doing it with a smile and confidence that conveys an easy-going personality and maturity. Gone is the seriousness a younger Toews once displayed in off-ice interviews when he was a boy captain with the weight of the world on his shoulders.

Yet, on the ice, Toews is still as serious as ever, to the dismay of his opponents.

While Sidney Crosby and the Penguins do battle with the Columbus Blue Jackets in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, Toews and the Hawks are home clear of the first-round. Chicago wrapped up a six-game series against the St. Louis Blues yesterday. Jonathan Toews scored the game-winning goal in the third-period of Game 6 — his third game-winner of the series.

Crosby’s club can close out the Jackets in six if they win tonight at Nationwide Arena in Columbus.

What makes Toews so damn good, though, is that he provides his club with much more than goals. In fact, and this is surprising, the Blackhawks captain only scored three goals in twenty-three games en route to a Stanley Cup title in the 2013 tournament. But he won face-offs, killed penalties, shutdown opposing scorers, blocked shots. He battled through injury. He won.

I know, I know. Just because Jonathan Toews is amazing at everything doesn’t mean he’s better than Sidney Crosby. Crosby, after all, is a runaway on the scoring leaders’ board when he’s healthy and playing.

And Sid is more than just a point getter; he does the little things well, also. But his team, the Penguins, has had recent struggles in the postseason. While it’s unfair to blame Crosby for his team’s poor playoff showings, it can be said that he hasn’t recently willed himself to a Cup victory when his club needed him to be the best player in the world. 

In the 2013 Conference Finals, Crosby went pointless against the defensively prolific Boston Bruins. The Penguins were swept, scoring a mere two goals in four straight losing efforts.

Look no further than this season’s Selke Trophy finalists (Patrice Bergeron, Toews and Anze Kopitar) and you’ll see that the best defensive forwards in the NHL have another thing in common: they play vital roles on the three most recent Stanley Cup championship teams. And Crosby is no Selke Trophy finalist.

If being a complete player is considered more important criteria than sheer offence, maybe Toews is better than Crosby. It’s not totally outrageous to suggest that the Hawks captain is the best player in the world. His resume is littered with accomplishments so great that few can boast them.

Toews or Crosby? I guess it all depends on how you evaluate a player’s greatness. If it’s goals and assists you favour most, Crosby is the hands down King of Hockey Players.

Crosby won the Art Ross this season with 104 points. Ryan Getzlaf of the Anaheim Ducks, who is also in the conversation for best player in hockey, finished second in points with 87 — which by my math is seventeen less points than Sid earned.

There is no denying how great Sidney Crosby is. He truly thinks on another level in the offensive zone. Listed at 5-foot-11, you can’t say Crosby is a dominant scorer in the NHL because he holds a physical advantage over his competitors. No, Crosby is an offensive genius, the greatest scoring machine of his era.

According to Quant Hockey: Sidney Crosby is fourth all-time in points per game, trailing only Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Mike Bossy — all of whom recorded unfathomable point totals in the free-wheelin’ 1980s when NHL goaltenders were tiny little things who played an outdated style of goaltending that hasn’t been used by a pro goalie since long before Sidney Crosby was earning an NHL salary.

So, who you picking: Toews or Crosby?

You really can’t go wrong with either Toews or Crosby leading your team, and I believe the player you choose says a lot about what you value in a hockey player.

Crosby wins the scoring titles and makes the highlight reel more often than Toews. Number 87 dances on NHL ice-sheets at a higher octane than anyone else. His offensive abilities are undeniable.

Toews won’t score as much as Crosby, nor will his actions on the ice dazzle crowds as often. But, the results of his actions are more likely to send chills down a fan’s spine and create victorious memories.

So, the question is not so much whether you’d prefer Toews or Crosby on your team. Rather, the question is, who would you rather have on your team: hockey’s best offensive player or hockey’s top leader?

There’s no wrong answer, but if I had to choose, I’d take Jonathan Toews over Sidney Crosby. What about you?