Well, it was another memorable night for Washington Capitals fans as the Great 8, Alexander Ovechkin reached another milestone, scoring his 50th goal of the season in a 5-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. It was the 3rd time in his relatively brief 4 year career that Ovechkin has reached the 50 goal mark, becoming the first player in Washington Capitals history to do so.
However, when all was said and done, all the talk surrounding Ovechkin wasn't focused on his 50th goal, but rather the strange celebration that followed. After putting the puck in the net, Ovechkin proceeded to drop his stick, and then mimed trying to pick it up several times. It wasn't immediately clear what Ovechkin was trying to convey, but he later explained that the stick was so hot that he couldn't pick it up for fear of burning himself.
Now, I'm a huge Ovechkin fan, and, unlike Don Cherry, I have never had a problem with the way he celebrates his goals...until now. Usually when Ovechkin scores he is so excited to do so that he can't contain his passion. Whether he is flying into the arms of teammates or jumping against the glass, Ovechkin's reaction to scoring is exuberant and genuine. It did not feel that way tonight. It was obviously premeditated, and Ovechkin's performance just seemed forced and clumsy.
As Ovechkin went through his hot stick routine I was uncomfortably reminded of Sean Avery's push-up celebration from a few years back. Granted, Avery's goal was not his 50th of the season, but the obvious choreography, much like Ovechkin's, reeked of goofy NFL style showmanship, and disrespected the players on the opposing team.
To be fair to Ovechkin I am certain it was not his intention to disrespect the Tampa Bay players. He was just trying to show fans his funny, whimsical side, but this celebration was a far cry from his two-stick shootout performance at this past All-star game.
All that being said, I don't want to make a mountain out of a molehill. Though I think Ovechkin carried the celebration a little far this time, I certainly haven't lost respect for him. He is a young player, and he has a sense of fun that is sadly lacking throughout most of the NHL. Still, any time you come out looking like Sean Avery in one of his more brain-dead moments you probably need to show better judgment.
In any event it will be interesting to see how Don Cherry reacts to Ovechkin's goal celebration on Coach's Corner this weekend. Cherry has already been severely critical of Ovechkin's reaction to scoring goals. This one should just add more fuel to the fire. But maybe, just maybe, that was Ovechkin's intent all along...
Watch the video of Alexander Ovechkin's 50th goal celebration below