Heres some advice for all those who detested Alexander Ovechkins goal celebration last week: lighten up.
Washington Captials winger Ovechkin made headlines last week after he hopped over a fiery stick — demonstrating he was on fire — in celebration of a goal against Tampa Bay. Some have since said that the act follows unsportsmanlike behaviour, but these critics need to recognize that Ovie wasnt celebrating just any other goal. It was his 50th of the season.
Although his goal celebrations are usually more energetic than that of his peers, Ovechkin, known also for his high enthusiasm and passion for the game, is not like other hockey players either.
His most recent antics have created quite the buzz, and have prompted talks of penalizing excessive goal celebrations — the same ones Ovie seems to enjoy demonstrating. This could look something like the NFL and its attempt to stop outlandish celebrations. Like Ovechkin, individuals such as Terrell Owens and Chad Johnson were known for their flamboyant touchdown celebrations. Tired of their bizarre end zone antics, the NFL decided to step in three years ago, ruling that teams who celebrate excessively be penalized 15 yards on the ensuing kick-off. The rule of course has not been well-received by a majority of football fans, prompting many to refer to the NFL as the No Fun League.
Soccer players are also known for their creative goal celebrations. FIFA, the sports governing body, however, isnt too concerned with penalizing a player for outlandish celebrations — except for a yellow card whenever a player strips his jersey off. Nonetheless, you wouldnt see a soccer player pull out a sharpie marker to sign the game ball or steal a cheerleaders pom-poms (a la Terrell Owens).
Ovechkins goal celebration brings back memories of Tiger Williams riding his stick or Theoren Fleury sliding on his knees from blue-line to blue-line. These celebrations are more the exception rather than the rule.NHL players dont exaggerate their goal celebrations, save for Teemu Selanne in the nineties, which is why Ovechkin has garnered so much attention from the media. He is criticized for overenthusiastically celebrating his goals, but many fail to mention how he is also the first one to celebrate and support his teammates goals. Ovie isnt your stereotypical egoistical star.
Ovechkin is a gift to NHL fans, and media pundits should realize how he has been instrumental in revitalizing the dying sport of hockey. Rather than trying to put a stop to Ovechkins enthusiasm, these individuals should wonder why more players dont play with the same passion and intensity. Bottomline is, Ovechkins celebration was not directed to defame the other team, and hence, should not be recognized as unsportsmanlike behaviour. Don Cherry cited the other players feelings and the feelings of the rookie goaltender that he scored on as one reason why his celebration was wrong. Judging by the amount of money these players make, we shouldnt let their feelings get in the way of a little fun — its a profession after all; they should know how to deal with such things.
Thankfully, not everyone disliked the celebration — some of his peers even enjoyed it. As long as Ovechkin is scoring 50 or more goals a season, its best if we left him and his explosive personality alone. He is arguably the most exciting goal scorer in the NHL today and one of the best players to watch. If dancing around his stick helps to keep fans in the stands, a high-level of competition, and his passion for the game intact, then dance away Alex, dance away.