On Sidney Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin

The Winter Classic will undoubtedly be a showcase for these two. Getty Images

Think back to April 2009 (only 20 months ago). As the regular season drew to a close, there was little doubt that Alex Ovechkin would win his second consecutive Hart trophy as league MVP. After all, Ovechkin had been the runaway league leader in goals for a second year and had probably lost the overall scoring race to Evgeni Malkin because he missed three games. Four years after his NHL debut, Ovechkin had established himself as the NHL's undisputed No. 1 player, ahead of his rival Sidney Crosby.

Today, though, it seems every NHL GM except George McPhee would choose Crosby as his franchise player if given the chance -- and fans and media would agree with this assessment.

What happened?

This change in opinion has been largely driven by four events.