The Breakaway Challenge at the NHL All-Star Skills Competition is generally a solo endeavor. This year, for the first time, three players teamed up.
Who would have guessed that duo would be made up of two players who have been rivals since 2005— and one who will be eligible in the 2036 Draft?
On Friday night, Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby teamed up with Ovechkin’s four-year-old son Sergei to score past a toppling Robert Luongo, earning a perfect score from the judges and claiming the title of 2023 Breakaway Challenge champions.
WHAT A LINE! Two hockey legends and one star in the making. pic.twitter.com/gfanP8NXtH— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) February 4, 2023
Alex Ovechkin-Sidney Crosby-Sergei Ovechkin ... what a forward line!— Pens Inside Scoop (@PensInsideScoop) February 4, 2023
Though personally, I would prefer seeing:
Nikita Malkin-Sidney Crosby-Alex Letang
Alex Ovechkin said he and Sidney Crosby talked about teaming up for the breakaway challenge tomorrow. I asked whose idea it was, he grinned and said he couldn’t say.— Taylor Haase (@TaylorHaasePGH) February 2, 2023
The feel-good moment was a reminder that the rivalry between these two generational talents, which has been built up by the media and compounded by annual playoff matchups, usually stays the confines of the game— even if it has bubbled up into some very bitter moments over the past few years.
Sure, Crosby and Ovechkin have differences. There is their teams’ ongoing rivalry (as can be seen on the steps of the National Portrait Gallery after every Penguins win in D.C.) and the fact that the two have “totally different” personalities (as Crosby told Paul Bissonnette on Spittin’ Chiclets in 2020).
Still, they have plenty in common. After all, they have both been the faces of an NHL franchise for 17 years.
That will give them plenty to talk about when they “have a couple of beers together,” as Ovechkin said they would do once retired.
Here’s Ovechkin on his relationship with Crosby. pic.twitter.com/7fG0jpkqTG— Taylor Haase (@TaylorHaasePGH) February 2, 2023
“We’ve always had big games against each other, and obviously always had the microscope on us,” Crosby told reporters later that day. “But to be able to, in a relaxed environment like this, just catch up a bit, it’s nice to share that with him.”
Would Sidney Crosby want to grab a beer with Alex Ovechkin at the end of their careers and look back at their careers?— Mike Stephens (@mikeystephens81) February 3, 2023
“Oh yeah. We have a lot to catch up on” pic.twitter.com/GbEeakENEv
And on the possibility of Ovi matching Wayne Gretzky’s 894 goals?
“He’s well on his way to get the record,” Crosby said. “Hopefully he does it.”