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Morning Skate: The Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel rivalry is here and it's fantastic

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This is what the NHL needed.

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Lace 'em up. Time for the Morning Skate.

* * *

ALL PRAISE McEICHEL

Quick, let's rank the best personal rivalries in the NHL:

1. Alex Ovechkin vs. Sidney Crosby

2. Jack Eichel vs. Connor McDavid

3. Uh ...

4. Give me a second.

5. I'll get back to you.

Honestly, the NHL should aspire to be like the NBA in many ways. Both leagues occupy the third or fourth positions in the "Big 4" sports leagues. They appeal to different crowds, but both have plenty of personalities to bank on. But what the NBA has that the NHL lacks is individual battles that fans can sink their teeth into every other night (and even over the course of a season). LeBron vs. Kobe. Steph vs. Kevin Durant. Tim Duncan vs. Dirk.

Sure, there's a fundamental difference between the sports that keeps hockey from doing the same. If one individual on your hockey team is standing out head and shoulders from his teammates, your team probably isn't very good.

But look at how much mileage we've gotten out of Ovi vs. Sid over the years. There's no bitterness between the two at all, but every time they play each other or do something special to rise above the other, it's benefited the league as a whole. So the energy that McDavid and Eichel brought in their first game against each other on Tuesday was a terrific sign for the next decade or so.

If these two 18-year-olds can get fired up to outclass not only each other, but also everyone else on the ice when all eyes are on them, then that can only mean great things for the NHL's popularity down the road.

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