Michael Wilbon Needs a Telescope

Let me preface this by stating that Michael Wilbon is an amazing columnist for the Washington Post.  I have been a dedicated reader for over 10 years.  Despite the lack of NHL coverage, I am a big fan of “Pardon the Interruption” aired daily on ESPN.  It is a major reason why I try to duck out of work early; so I can make it home for the re-broadcast at 6:30pm.  I appreciate his ability to take a position and argue it intellectually (most of the time) and logically.  Wilbon has never been coy about the positions he takes.  This was ever so apparent in a recent rant about D.C’s hockey savior, Alex Ovechkin.  

Wilbon, as any sports writer should, has praised Ovechkin for his on-ice accomplishments, his love for hockey, the passion he brings every night, and his role as sole rejuvenator of hockey in the D.C. metropolitan area.  Recently Wilbon took to the chat rooms to praise Ovechkin.  

On February 20 Wilbon said this of Ovechkin, “Yes, Ovechkin is the best player in the NHL right now. “He’s sixth in assists and we don’t think of him as a playmaker, really. The rage he plays with is irresistible. Goodness….Thing about the NBA and NHL is you want to see the best players in the playoffs, and I can’t wait to see Ovechkin in April/May and presumably June.” 

And yet just 20 days later, Wilbon’s point of view took a complete 180 degree turn.  On March 1 Wilbon said this, “By the way, and this won’t sit well here in Washington with Capitals fans, but Crosby is so far ahead of Ovechkin right now Ovie would need a telescope to see him.” 

This change in opinion is quite remarkable.  There are two factors that lead to this sudden change in opinion.  The first factor is Sidney Crosby’s dismantling of Team Russia in the Olympics.  A game in which Crosby was a non-factor.  Team Canada did go on to win Olympic Gold.  Congratulations.  

Secondly, Wilbon puts Ovechkin’s run in with a fan in his crosshairs.  Video surfaced of Ovechkin pushing a camera out of his face.  This act was indefensible.  Wilbon said, “The reports from Vancouver are that the woman suffered bruises. You show me when Jordan or Tiger did that.”  The issue here is that the source Wilbon used for this declaration was a YouTube video clip in which a Google Russian-to-English translation was used.  Not exactly a reliable source.  Perhaps it’s just a coincidence that nobody has come forward suggesting this accusation is true.  Have we heard from the woman who as allegedly assaulted?  Have we heard from the police?  The IOC?  The NHL?  The answer is no.  All of us are guilty of making statements, or writing articles in which are facts may not be 100 percent straight.  But please Wilbon, do us all a favor and check your sources before accusing someone of assault

But back to the main beef I have.  The notion that Ovechkin needs a telescope to see Crosby is utterly preposterous.  Take a look at the following and decide for yourself. 

  • NHL All-Rookie Team: 2006
  • NHL First All-Star Team: 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009.
  • NHL Number 1 Star of the Month: January 2006, January 2008, March 2008, November 2008, January 2010
  • NHL Offensive Player of the Month: January 2006
  • NHL Rookie of the Month: December 2005 and January 2006
  • NHL Number 1 Star of the Week: Week Ending – December 30, 2007; March 9, 2008; March 23, 2008; December 28, 2008; October 5, 2009; January 18, 2010.
  • NHL Offensive Player of the Week: Week Ending – December 31, 2005; January 23, 2006
  • NHL Player of the Year – Sporting News: 2008, 2009
  • NHL All-Star Game Selections: 2007, 2008, 2009
  • Calder Memorial Trophy – NHL Rookie of the Year: 2006
  • Kharlamov Trophy– 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009
  • Lester B. Pearson Award (Most Outstanding Player): 2008, 2009
  • Hart Memorial Trophy (Most Valuable Player): 2008, 2009
  • Art Ross Trophy: 2008 (112 points)
  • Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy: 2008 (65 goals), 2009 (56 goals)
  • NHL Records: 

  • First player to win the Art Ross Trophy, Maurice Richard Trophy, Lester B. Pearson Award and Hart Memorial Trophy as well as win all four in a single season (Note: The Maurice Richard Trophy was    established for the 1998-99 season).
  • Most goals scored by a left-winger in a season (2007-08) – 65 goals
  • Most points scored by a left-wing rookie (2005-06)– 106 points
  • Most shots on goal by a left-winger in a season (2008–09) – 528 shots
  • Most shots on goal by a rookie in a season (2005–06) – 425 shots
  • Point streak in consecutive games to start an NHL career by a No. 1 overall pick (2005–06) – 8 games
  • Most regular season points by a Russian-born NHL rookie (2005–06) – 106 points
  • Fastest overtime goal – 6 seconds; (December 15, 2006 vs. Atlanta Thrashers; tied with Mats Sundin and David Legwand)

    Of course all of this depends on how you define greatness.  Sidney Crosby leads the way in terms of being a winner.  He has a Stanley Cup, and Olympic Gold Medal, and a World Junior Championship under his belt.  It is easy to argue that team accomplishments define greatness.  But to suggest that Ovechkin needs a telescope to see Crosby is just plain wrong.  

    Michael Wilbon must certainly think Dan Marino needs a telescope to see Joe Montana right?  The logic is the same.  I don’t expect to see argument on PTI anytime soon.  Michael Wilbon is most certainly entitled to his opinions.  I just happen to grossly disagree. 


    Stats by The Sporting News, NHL.com, Japersrink, Capitals.NHL.com.

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    About the Author: Jeremy is a life time hockey fan currently living in Washington DC. Jeremy also runs a Capitals blog called The Nation's Capitals where he frequently posts blogs about the state of the Caps. His other interests include music and politics. Jeremy has a degree in Political Science. Being from DC, politics kind of comes with the territory.

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    1. Kevin G says:

      Kevin G thinks Wilbon is a Bandwagon Whore of a “columnist”

    2. FSJ says:

      Ovie may not have the trophies that Crosby has (yet)…but they are two of the best, most explosive players in the NHL.  They are yin and yang when it comes to the type of person they are, but aside from that they are both awesome!

    3. Albert Hall says:

      Ovie does have a World Championship gold (as well as Junior WC), something that Crosby doesn’t have yet…

    4. Not many people would say this. Youve got some guts. I will say this, though. If you dont want to alienate any readers, youre gonna have to stop generalising so much. Perhaps you should try seeing both sides of this issue instead of assuming that yours is the only valid opinion. Id still read it, I like the way you write. But I noticed some people getting upset.