The label of best player in hockey gets bandied about in discussion from time to time, but when the greatest player ever chimes in people listen.
Wayne Gretzky paid the ultimate compliment to Sidney Crosby on Saturday, calling the Pittsburgh Penguins phenom the best player in the game.
“I don’t think there's any question Sidney Crosby is the best all-around player in the game,” Gretzky told ESPN. “His hockey sense is so strong and so solid, combined with his God-gifted talent of being able to see the ice, see the entire picture in front of him. And, most importantly, I don’t care how good you are, if you don’t have a work ethic, it doesn’t matter. There’s no question that each and every game, he’s one of the hardest-working guys on the ice. In my mind, he’s the best player in the game today.”
Gretzky also commented on Crosby’s ability bounce back after his concussion woes over the past few years.
“For him to be able to get through all that and have the wherewithal to still have the capacity he plays with, that’s impressive,” Gretzky said. “And the thing about him – he plays in all the dirty areas. He’s never hesitant to go to the boards, go to the corners or go to the front of the net. As good as he is and as much finesse as he has, he’s somewhat of a grinder, too, like a Messier- or a Bobby Clarke-style in the sense that he’ll go anywhere to get the job done. That’s what Sidney does. In my opinion, he leaps above anybody else, and there’s some great players in the game today.”
High praise coming from the greatest player ever.
Three games after returning from a concussion, Evgeni Malkin is back on the sidelines.
The Penguins star will be out of the lineup 1-2 weeks after suffering an upper-body injury thanks to a hit from James van Riemsdyk in Saturday’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The team didn't reveal the nature of Malkin’s injury but coach Dan Bylsma told reporters it’s not a concussion.
Malkin was fourth on the team in scoring heading into Sunday with five goals and 19 assists in 21 games.
Montreal Canadiens forward Brandon Prust is expected to be out of the lineup 10 days with a minor shoulder separation ... The Colorado Avalanche put Milan Hejduk on injured reserve with a torso injury ... The Capitals sent down goaltender Philipp Grubauer to the AHL’s Hershey Bears.