Oooooookay, here we go! Here's what you need to know first about Alex Ovechkin before we begin. Alexander Mikhaylovich Ovechkin was a child phenom growing up playing hockey in Moscow, Russia. Alex has blossomed into a ridiculously talented hockey player, now being dubbed Alexander "The Great" or "The Great 8" in the hockey world. The Washington Capitals Assistant Captain is in his 4Th season of which he has only missed 2 NHL games in his career thus far. "Ove" as his teammates refer to him won the Calder Trophy as the 2006 NHL Rookie of the Year, putting up 52 goals and 54 assists in his first season. In 2008 he walked away with a plethora of awards including, The Lester B. Pearson Award for most outstanding player, The Hart Memorial Trophy for most valuable player, The Art Ross Trophy for most points(finishing with 112), The Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy for most goals(finishing with 65), and the make everyone shit their pants award for scoring possibly the most incredible goal of all time. "Ove" already holds NHL club and league records as well as records for International play, all this at the young age of 23. Got it?!
Now we go straight to the issue. Ovechkin posted his 3rd 50+ goal season in 4 years the other night against the Tampa Bay Lightning at the St. Pete Times Forum. Upon hitting this mark, Ovechkin dropped his stick on the ice next to the Bolts goal and proceeded to stand over it as if the stick were on fire and he was warming his hands. He came out after the game and stated that it was Jose Theodore's idea and was pre-planned between himself and his teammates but judging by his line mate Mike Green's reaction, there wasn't quite a consensus on the celebration. This has started a frenzy which has the Lightning organization, NHL players, and hockey fans everywhere up in arms.
I think I may be seeing the grey, possibly even the neon green(like in '91) area of this whole thing whereas everyone else I've discussed it with is caught up in the black and white. Ovechkin is truly just a guy who loves hockey, he loves the game of hockey like I love a busty blonde. This is clearly not the first time Ovechkin has over celebrated a goal. The way I understand the situation is that Ovechkin is just an excitable guy, he gets pumped up like a little kid on a pixie stick binge. He has been the same player all along, I'm sure he'll settle down at some point in his career. Just take a look at players such as Jagr and Selanne, former avid over celebrators turned class act superstars. I say why not let him have a little fun while he's still young? He's still a kid, a young guy who just wants to have a little fun, no harm, no foul. Besides the fact, I think it's really no secret at this point that Alexander Ovechkin is an true entertainer especially after the all star break. So why is it that we're so surprised when something of this nature pops up? The NHL has pretty much made this guy one of the prominent faces of the League, does he not almost have an obligation to please his fans? He already produces his end of the bargain by scoring 50+ goals, 100+ points a season, he can't have a little fun doing it? Realistically how is this any different than Gretzky's "Twinkle Toe" celebration, Mike Foligno's "Foligno Leap", Teemu Selanne's "Glove Shooting" celebration or even just simply throwing your stick and arms up in the air. These are all just signs of pride and joy, not to mention the adrenaline that you acquire while playing the game. These players just get caught up in the moment with what I believe to be crowd pleasing tactics. I mean...Who doesn't want to hear a packed stadium of 18,000+ fans chant their name? Sure this may seem disrespectful to the other team involved on the flip side but that's just the game of hockey. It's a competitive sport and at the end of the game there are going to be winners and there are going to be losers, it's inevitable. This whole celebration hoopla is a quite minuscule issue if you ask me.
Now on the other hand I'm not necessarily saying that I love this kind of behaviour. It seems slightly unprofessional, like me as the banker in a Monopoly tournament. I understand that hockey fans are passionate and feel the need to defend our game but I truly believe that if it gets people talking about hockey or even puts fans in the seats, is it then not good for the game? At this juncture the NHL as a product is slipping into peril and the tough economic times we are living through in this current recession have affected even the prime hockey markets. I think we need all the viewership we can get in order to keep the sport that we so proudly love and support afloat, don't you? Unless you really want to see the Las Vegas Canadiens take on the Texas Maple Leafs that is. In that sense I really don't see the Ovechkin type celebration to be a problem. The critics will surly call it classless and the Sean Avery advocates will call it necessary, or "sloppy seconds", I personally fall somewhere in the middle.
This definitely seemed to have sparked the ongoing feud between Alex Ovechkin and Don Cherry......Beauty! Cherry has recently criticized Ovechkin for his flamboyant style celebrations in which Alex commented on after the celebratory game, jokingly saying "he's going to be pissed off for sure...I love it! I can't wait to hear what he says about me on Saturday night". Of course Don took the opportunity to respond to this on Coaches Corner Saturday night, weighing in on the subject in true Cherry fashion. The most recent segment in the Ovechkin/Cherry battle featured Ovechkin at the ACC Tuesday night before his game against the Leafs taking a playful jab at Cherry by flaunting a Coaches Corner T-shirt. I love Don Cherry but don't let the Don man push you around! Good on ya Ove!
If at a certain point these celebrations start to get out of control and effect the actual game being played on the ice then I'll see it to be a problem... it clearly hasn't reached that plateau. Though the second someone pulls a cell phone out of the pipes or a marker out of they're cup... I'm out! I'm pretty sure there is a line to be crossed here at some point but I guess in actuality everyone draws a line in their own minds as to what's right and what's wrong. To tell you the honest truth, my initial reaction before even thinking about the implications the celebration might have was that it was absolutely awesome and hilarious! I think I may have even pooed a little. So there you have it......that's my stance on it......Don't you just love hockey?!
Peace Out Friends!
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