That being said, the playoffs have brought the debate back up again, so I feel forced to weigh in. It always begins with one question: "If you were starting a team, which would you pick to build you team around?" And my answer is: Alex Ovechkin. He is more exciting both on and off the ice. His persona is one that can lift a team and a city. He embraces the media instead of shying away from it. He jokes and does goofy things that make him endearing to a fan base, which would sell more tickets. He always seems to truly love and enjoy what he is doing both on the ice and away from the rink. That, to me, makes him more marketable and better to build a franchise around.
Part of the Great Debate is over their off-ice personalities. Ovechkin wins me over here too, mainly because Crosby seems flat-out boring. There's nothing wrong with that, and he's probably more likely to never have a Tiger Woods moment, but it's also not fun. I'm a lover of fun. I guess my personality matches up more with Ovechkin's. I have friends like him. He is the kind of person I like to surround myself with.
Many people think that when people speak negatively about Crosby, they are knocking his talent. That is ridiculous. He is obviously one of the most skilled players in the world. My problem with his game is his attitude. I don't mean as a person, but I obviously don't know him, but on the ice he has a habit of complaining. A lot. And just as you can't deny his skill, you can't deny that part of his game either. That is what tips the balance for me. He dives. He asked people to stop throwing hats on the ice after Ovechkin's hat trick last spring. When he "fights", his teammates hold the other player down while Crosby wails away. He hides behind linesmen. He is a chippy player who pretends he's not, and that annoys me. At least Matt Cooke knows it.
The main argument people provide in favor of Crosby being the better player is that he has the titles. That doesn't mean much to me, because when comparing the two, he has had the better teams. In the Olympics, (where he was a non-factor until his gold-medal winning goal), his team was better and MUCH better coached. Until this year, the Penguins teams have been better than the Capitals teams. In a game as team-oriented as hockey, I don't think you can used titles to say that individual players are better than one another.
Obviously, I prefer Ovechkin. But that is exactly what it is: a preference. Crosby annoys me with his on-ice attitude and over-sized lips, but that doesn't make one better than the other. The real question should be who do you LIKE better, and my answer to that is Ovechkin.
But who is better? That is something we will always be debating, and there will never be a true answer.