In a recent interview with TSN, Toronto Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan supported Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin’s bold claim that he and Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby “saved the NHL.”
Ovechkin made the controversial statement in an interview with The Athletic last week, saying that when he and Crosby entered the league in the mid-2000s, they “saved the NHL” because of the excitement they brought to the game.
Shanahan, who played 21 seasons in the NHL before transitioning to a front office role, acknowledged Ovechkin’s impact on the league and agreed with his sentiment.
“I think that the rivalry between Ovechkin and Crosby, I think, brought the game to a more mainstream fan base, a fan base that maybe wasn’t there previously,” Shanahan told TSN. “An international fan base.”
Both Ovechkin and Crosby have had immense success in their careers, with multiple Stanley Cup championships and numerous individual accolades to their names. Their rivalry has been a focal point in the NHL for over a decade, and their contributions to the game are undeniable.
However, some hockey fans and analysts may argue that Ovechkin and Crosby didn’t “save the NHL,” as the league has a rich history that extends far beyond their time in the league. The NHL has seen several periods of growth and popularity throughout its existence, and many players have played a significant role in shaping the league.
Regardless of differing opinions, Ovechkin’s claim has sparked a lively debate among hockey fans and is sure to continue generating discussion in the weeks to come.