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GENE'S BLOG: Crosby vs. Connor

In his latest blog, Gene Principe looks ahead to Tuesday night's first face off between Connor McDavid and Sidney Crosby

by Gene Principe @GenePrincipe / Sportsnet

Tuesday night in the U.S. is election night. The United States of America will decide whether Donald Trump will "Make America Great Again" or whether Hillary Clinton will become the country's first female President. Either way, it will be a historic night in the world of politics. The saying goes that sports and politics don't mix, but they will on Tuesday night. While Donald and Hillary will be scrapping it out, another battle will be waged on the ice in the title for skating and scoring supremacy between Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid.

Let me be clear, Crosby has it by way of his two Stanley Cups, scoring titles and international gold medals. He is the face of the game. The premier one, and in some cases, the only one. He has lived up to and maybe exceeded the belief that he was a generational talent. Crosby has done nothing to dispell the theory he is the game's greatest player. On the eve of Crosby vs. Connor, here is McDavid on the matchup of hockey's superpowers: "It's exciting for me as I grew up idolizing him," said the youngest captain in NHL history. "I didn't pattern myself after him, but he is the best player in the world." Period.

That should be the end of the story but really it's only the beginning, which is also where Connor McDavid is at in his career. A decade after the generational player named Crosby was drafted in 2005, along came another one. A slight, shy, talented and eager teenager arrived. His every move compared to the Kid named Sid who beat him to the title of 'generational talent' by 10 years. Now, Connor is trying to catch up, but there's a lot of work to be done because of what Crosby has accomplished. "You definitely try and learn things from him," said the 19-year-old. "You definitely aim to reach his level and I hope to have half or a quarter of his success. He's basically won everything there is to win," continued Connor. The high-school honour student honouring the man he looks to dethrone as the face of hockey.

They have met before. Like when Hockey Canada handed out its gold medals for international supremacy and both Sid and Connor were there. Sid getting gold for the World Hockey Championships and Connor for the World Juniors. They also met when McDavid was playing junior hockey in Erie and he took a photo with Crosby and Sidney's boss Mario Lemieux. Acquaintances for sure, and maybe even friends, but a decade difference in age and playing in different countries and time zones has left the two as respected opponents who will face off on Tuesday night. "We don't communicate," was McDavid's response when asked if he and Crosby keep in touch.

While Crosby is the NHL's leader, he isn't afraid to share information to help out his opponent - and likely successor. The best example was Crosby speaking to Todd McLellan when the Oilers Head Coach was coaching Team Canada. A helping hand to a bench boss who knows one superstar and is getting to know the other. "I first didn't see a lot of Sid," said McLellan. "But I know him well enough now. It's not fair to either [player] when you are comparing them. However, they have lots of similarities and when they walk into a room they have a positive presence." Their first meeting could prove to be special. The idea that the title of 'Game's Greatest Player' is being passed from one great to the potential of another. A night that will be hard to trump, unless of course, Donald defeats Hillary.

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