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Saturday, December 19, 2009

How To Pronounce Ovechkin & Kovalev - Who Cares?

Apparently, everybody pronounces Kovalev and Ovechkin incorrectly. Much like the name of many other NHLers. Sadly, most of these players just don't care either and won't ask or teach announcers and broadcasters to do it properly.

Why bother? Call them all Moe Smith if you like. As long as the checks don't bounce.

Just in case you care, though, it's "Aeyvitchkin" and "Kovalyov."

2 down, 134 to go.

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Friday, March 27, 2009

The Ovechkin Story That Just Won't Die

I don't know if the manufactured furor over Alexander Ovechkin's celebration of his 50th goal (youtube video of it here) is a league-wide phenomenon, or if it's just here in Toronto that it's been kept alive in print and TV and sports talk radio for far too long, but it's hard to disagree what Bruce Boudreau said to a scrum of reporters the other day.

"It's 10 friggin days since it happened," said Boudreau "We have talked to Tampa's coaches, we have said our speech. The people that are bringing the crap up are you guys. Nobody cares about it anymore. You guys want to bring it up because you want to see a riot, then you want to talk about retribution. It's the dumbest thing in the world. You gotta have better stuff to talk about.

"You guys coming from Toronto to find out an answer on retribution where there should be no retribution at all," he continued. "He scored his 50th goal in a zero-zero game. It wasn't 8-0 where he made a mockery. If Tampa scores a couple of goals and wants to do a celebration, go for it. We have talked to everybody we can talk about. It's a done deal as far as I'm concerned."

This story is over, and I'm not only surprised people are still bugging Boudreau and Ovechkin about it, I'm surprised it caused such a stir in the first place.

The arguments I've heard most about Ovechkin doing his choreographed goal celebration are three-fold. First is that it sets a bad example for hockey playing kids who now might do their own big goal celebrations and show poor sportsmanship. Second is the Don Cherry argument that he's become nothing more than a clown, that people are laughing at him, not with him. Third is that he's embarrassed the Tampa Bay Lightning and made them feel bad.

My take on it is this: Alex Ovechkin is 23 years old. If showing a little youthful exuberance at accomplishing something great, something that no one else in the league is likely going to accomplish this season (Jeff Carter and Zach Parise are tied for second in goals with 41 each, both with just nine games left to play), is wrong, I don't want to be right. If you're a kid playing minor hockey and you score a big goal, go ahead and celebrate it, just do it in the same spirit as Ovechkin: do it because you're having great fun playing a game you love to play.

Ovechkin has plenty of time to become the robotic player who does a simple fist pump then hi-fives his teammates player that Don Cherry and many hockey traditionalists who can't remember what it's like to be 23 years old and doing something you love to do well anymore want him to be. And Don Cherry is not a man who should accuse anyone else of being a clown, not while wearing the various costumes he's worn over the years.

And if the Lightning feel bad about Ovechkin celebrating on something about it. There's nothing wrong with Tampa Bay wanting to show up Ovechkin the next time they play the Capitals by blowing them out, or catching him with a legal check, or keeping him from scoring another one. In fact, that's a good thing. One of the most common complaints about the game today is that there aren't enough rivalries. Well, these are the kind of things that create rivalries. If the Lightning player's self-esteem is so poor that they get depressed because of what Ovechkin did, they need to grow some thicker skin.

Image Source: Flickr / clydeorama

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Monday, January 28, 2008

All-Star Game: Players and ShowBusiness

NHL hockey is a sport. It is also showbusiness. The players certainly master and understand the "business" part of showbusiness. After seeing the SuperSkills competition and the All-Star Game, it is clear that they need to improve the "show" part of showbusiness.

First, the SuperSkills competition and its last event, the Breakaway Challenge. This is a new event where a panel of judges award points on the artistry and creativity of a player on a breakaway. Scoring doesn't cut it. Fancy doesn't even cut it. We're talking about creativity, here. Something totally out of the ordinary. Kolvalchuk tried a little, shooting while on his knees. St. Louis at least tried something spectacular but totally failed. Getzlaf had faint attempts and once skated behind the net before shooting. Others barely tried to be fancy. Luckily, Alexander Ovechkin was there to spice things up. The bottom line is that the players generally didn't seem to get the point of that Breakawat Challenge and the NHL obviously didn't brief them properly. Next time, hopefully, they'll do better.

Second, the players' presentation before the All Star game and before each event during the Superskills competition. They barely cracked smiles, let alone show any emotion, acknowledge that they were being presented, or try to connect with the crowd and viewers. When they are presented during the playoffs, they have the excuse that they are in their zone before an important game. The All-Star game is a party, though. Wave at the crowd! Nod! Smile! Something. Anything. Again, you'd think that the NHL would give some directions to the players, asking that they at list show that they're alive when their name is announced.

We'll give it to Scott Gomez who said "Hi Mom!"

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

NHL: $2.5 Billion Industry Looking for Volunteers!

The NHL, with projected revenues of $2.53 billion (as per Street and Smith’s Sports Business Journal) for the 2007-08 season, is looking for people who will work for free as volunteers during the All-Star game festivities.

Why not! There's a sucker born every minute, right?

The league generates $2.53 billion for the season, hundreds of “employees” make millions per year, owners sit on their sound investments and the league doesn’t have the decency to pay people $10/hour to work during the All-Star game festivities!

Why would they, though, given that people apparently line up to work for hours for free (or a cap and a shirt) for them? Ever seen people react to t-shirts thrown in the crowd during a sports event? Obviously, a free t-shirt goes a long way.

Rubbing elbows with the rich and famous? Maybe. There’s nothing like being the dork working for free, wearing a NHL shirt, driving Sidney Crosby from the Airport to a restaurant you can’t afford. Or showing Ovechkin’s dad where the bathrooms are at some All-Star game party. Or having a glimpse at Vincent Lecavalier walking the red carpet, far away, while you keep the autograph seekers away.

Long Live the NHL!

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Saturday, January 12, 2008

Fiset on Ovechkin's Mom: Typical Russian

"Ovechkin's mom is special, she comes across as a real typical Russian. I don't want to be racist but she has this look," said Stéphane Fiset of Newport Sports Management when interviewed by Montréal-based CKAC Sports radio station after Alex Ovechkin signed the richest contract in overall dollar terms in NHL history with the Washington Capitals ($US124-million for 13 years).
Whatever he meant by "typical Russian."

Fiset was commenting on Ovechkin's new contract and the fact that he dumped Newport Sports Management in late 2006 to have his mom Tatiana, a former basketball player, negotiate his contract. At the time, his mom apparently explained that they didn't need an agent and could get the maximum allowed by the CBA themselves.

Fiset, a former NHL goalie for Québec, Colorado, Los Angeles and Montréal, added that Ovechkin himself is a nice guy who likes to have fun. The grudge appears to be against the mom-turned-agent.

Who wouldn't hold a little grudge at someone who dumped you and took away a 3%-5% commission on $124M?

September 2006, a few months before firing agent: Alex, girlfriend, dad, Caps' owner Ted Leonsis, Mom, brother. (Picture Source)

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