UPDATE: Reaction to the Ovechkin goal celebration has been all over the map today, especially from Capitals fans that were less than thrilled with the display.
Faced with recent criticism about his boundless enthusiasm by both Canadian blowhard Don Cherry and arch rival Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Alexander Ovechkin did the punk rock thing tonight and celebrated his 50th goal with the theatrics of an NFL touchdown celebration.
Ovechkin's first-period goal in Tampa Bay gave him the third 50-goal season of his young career; and to celebrate, he dropped his stick to the ice and treated it like it was made of lava:
Check out the YouTube footage of TSN's coverage, which includes some Ovechkin reaction. Ovechkin said after the game that Washington Capitals goalie Jose Theodore suggested the routine. Was it another great moment in prop comedy from the reigning MVP, or an insult to sportsmanship?
When I asked him if he expected to be ripped by Don Cherry, he shot back with a big smile: "Oh yeah, he's going to be [ticked] off for sure. I love it. I can't wait 'til he says something about me. Old coaches, old system, you know?"
Not everyone was laughing, though. Caps Coach Bruce Boudreau said he was caught off guard by the celebration and plans to talk to his star about it. Bolts Coach Rick Tocchet was upset, telling reporters: "I grew up in the old days in the Spectrum where in the 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."
Tocchet also told the AP: "I think he’s a terrific player. He went down a notch in my books after that." Bet he did.
The 700 Level has another look at the goal, and writes: "No word on whether the NHL will be implementing celebration penalties, but Ovie's definitely testing the idea here."
As we've said before: If Ovechkin's enthusiasm crosses the line of honorability, that's something he'll pay the price for eventually on the ice.
A premeditated celebration like this one crosses the line -- seriously, if the NHL wanted forced celebrations made for SportsCenter, it would have signed T.O. But Ovechkin's a big boy and understands the media firestorm and potential retribution (Tampa's in Washington next week) coming his way.
There's something to be said for hockey players finally exhibiting an honest-to-god personality and sense of showmanship like Ovechkin does.
But there's also something said for holding off on the whole "hot stick" dance stuff until you've won, say, a playoff round in your otherwise remarkable regular season career.