It was supposed to be Sidney Crosby. It was supposed to be the Canadian kid -- the next Gretzky -- who would be the spotlight newcomer and erase the stain of a season lost to lockout.
Little did we know that Ovechkin, 20, would dominate highlight shows. Ovechkin, the Russian phenom taken first overall in the 2004 draft that was lost in the labor meltdown, excited fans with his spectacular scoring and amazing plays. You know the signature goal -- Ovechkin sliding past the net, flicking out his stick to bat the puck past the surprised goalie. Uncanny.
This isn't to belittle Crosby, whose 102 points and contributions to the Penguins were no less valuable. Their names will be linked for the next decade, rivals who bring out the best in each other. Both are NHL marketing dreams. But Ovechkin stole the show -- and our voting. He received 17 or 20 votes from league scouting directors.
Ovechkin is no mere kid. His world-class skills are enhanced by a nasty edge, and he is as savvy off the ice as on it. He scored 106 points in becoming the first rookie since Teemu Selanne to reach 100, and he is unbelievably dynamic. Go ahead; try to stop him on power plays.
Crosby is terrific. Ovechkin is jaw-dropping.