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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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posted by Brian P at | 0 Comments Links to this post



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