Friday, March 20, 2009

Ovechkin's "Hot" Stick Generates Cool Reactions

Alexander Ovechkin certainly has made his fiftieth goal of the season the most talked about marker with his "hot" stick celebration. Ovi's goal at 7:43 into the first period sparked controversy when Ovechkin laid his stick on the ice and acted like it was too hot to pick up. It was a celebration technique that he talked about with his team mates.

"Me, Jose Theodore, (Nick) Backstrom and (Mike Green) said if I score goal, Jose told me just put the stick on the ice and try like it's so hot," Ovechkin explained. "Backie stopped and Greenie stopped, so I have to do it myself."

The reactions after the game were pretty swift. Rick Tocchet took exception to the practice of showing off how hot one's stick can become. "I think he's a terrific player (but) he came down a notch in my book after that. I grew up in the old days in the Spectrum where that first period, after that happened, it might have been a three hour first period. It's not something I like, it's hard for me to see that in our building."

But the Lightning didn't seem to use it as motivation. They allowed three third period goals. Their comments are 50% angry at Ovechkin's actions and 50% unhappy with the way they lost the game. The Lightning did have a 4 game unbeaten streak in regulation coming into this game, so you can understand their frustration.

"He's the game's most dominant scorer, but to do that, especially on our ice, I took it as an insult," Lightning wing Ryan Malone told the Tampa Tribune. "It's embarrassing. This isn't football."

Draw your comparisions between Terrel Owens and Alex Ovechkin all you want, but Ovi's action did not hold up the game or really show disrespect to his competitors, even though their attitude states otherwise. I fail to see how this any different than Teemu Selanne (the only other active player in the NHL with 3 seasons and 50 goals) throwing his glove in the air and shooting it down with his stick, or Theron Fluery's knee slide to the other side of the rink.

If Don Cherry wants to go after the Russian's actions, that is fine. This coming from a guy that revels in the lime light with his purple suits and over the top reactions to just about every minor thing that happens in the NHL. Don't get me wrong, I personally love Cherry. But on this he can be very wrong.

Ovechkin's personality is what is creating excitement in the NHL right now. He is the only Capital to have fifty goals in three seasons, now fourth in scoring as a Capital. He has pretty much earned the right to get excited after reaching a milestone.

If Ovi had scored the goal at the Verizon Center, would the outrage be as strong? How can the Lightning fans approve of anything a rival team does in their building? Do they speak for all fans?

Ovechkin's actions didn't take up any time away from the game. He even showed his team first attitude by registering two assists on big goals late in the game. The Bolts had an opportunity to use it as a rallying cry as the goal was the first goal of the game, but they didn't. Instead, they reserved their feelings until after the game with their words, instead of actions.

Caps Notes:
  • Quintin Laing has a torn spleen and was not at practice today. Instead he was at a local Tampa hospital to undergo, I presume, surgery. Tough luck for the gritty shot blocker who had to clear waivers to rejoin the team and looked like he was in a Capital sweater for the rest of the year as Boyd Gordon is out with a broken digit. Laing's season appears to be over. Poor dude.
  • Mike Green was also missing from practice apparently nursing the wind that got knocked out of him. Green tangled with Steven Stamkos late in the game and Stamkos pulled #52 to the ice. It looked as if the defenseman injured his shoulder as he gingerly skated to the bench. After the game he scoffed at any seriousness of the injury.
  • Bruce Boudreau drew Ovechkin to the side and the pair had a talk of Ovi's 50 goal celebration. Tarik has the scoop on what was said.

1 comment:

Mark Bonatucci said...

Cherry is a boob and not relevant. Tocchet was a great player but he should be wondering why his team didn't use OV's antics as motivation to make sure they extended their strak. Oh yeah, I forgot, there is that talent and preparation thing. His team isn't as talented and he was out coached by Boudreau, forgot about that part - now it all makes sense. If you can't beat them, talk about how well we lost but I'm ols school so it doesn't matter.