Reactions to Ovechkin’s 50th Goal Celebration
Had to know this would be a hotbed of discussion. Within 24 hours, several NHL players and pundits were interviewed for their thoughts on Alexander Ovechkin’s celebration following his 50th goal Thursday night. There is a healthy mix of support and derision from them, with some thinking it was great for the game and some thinking there’s no place in hockey for it. The most high-profile players interviewed were Jarome Iginla and Daniel Alfredsson, and neither had any problems with it. Others, like the Senators’ Mike Fisher and the Canucks’ Kevin Bieksa, believed he went too far and acted like a pee wee player. Former player and TSN analyst Matthew Barnaby called Ovechkin “the ultimate salesman” for the NHL.
I personally believe hockey could use more of this. Older fans and proponents of “old time hockey” will invariably disagree. But the fact is, hockey is in need of personalities to drive the market for the game. It’s hard enough to market a league where the majority of the players are born outside the U.S. and have names casual American fans would have a hard time spelling or pronouncing. Ovechkin is a great player and brings high energy and excitement to every shift, and it’s great for fans to see someone as excited as they are when a goal is scored. Goals are rare enough in hockey that it warrants exuberance when they are achieved. I’m not against professionalism, either; if a guy doesn’t want to celebrate he doesn’t have to. But if every player in the league acted like robots, the monotony of it could rub off on the game and subsequently the fans.
Now call me hypocritical, but if Ovechkin is still pulling antics like this when he is a seasoned veteran, I may have a problem with it. If, say, 37-year-old Daniel Alfredsson was still going crazy every time he scored a goal, I may have to draw a line. But while Ovechkin is still young and the most exciting player in the league, why not allow him to provide maximum entertainment for his fans? There may be a day when we can all say “enough is enough” and tell him to act like he’s been there before, but that day is not today.