Exuberance, enthusiasm, and personality
I think that this Alexander Ovechkin 50th-goal celebration discussion has really gotten out of hand. Yes, it was planned. Yes, he did do it in Tampa and not in Washington. And yes, it was over the top. But so what?
To be honest, I don't see what the big deal is. I was watching him doing it at the time on TV and it didn't bother me. I was trying to figure out what he was doing, and it seemed a little strange at the time - and a little lame, to be honest. But it never occurred to me that he was being disrespectful.
To understand why Ovechkin would step out of that conservative hockey box, one would have to consider Ovechkin's personality.
Have you seen an interview of Ovechkin? He's a very happy-go-lucky kind of guy. He's always laughing and smiling and joking around. He doesn't seem to take much in life very seriously. Which you can also see by how much fun he has on the ice.
But he also doesn't trash talk anyone in the press, either. He's very careful about what he says about other players. And it's none of this, "Well, you know what I mean," kind of innuendo stuff. He just says straight out what he means.
You might think that's a product of the language barrier. I don't think so, though. It would be the easiest thing in the world to insult someone and then blame it on not being able to speak the language well. It's much more difficult to be respectful because there's many more word involved. It's the difference between, "He's a jerk," and, "I don't think he meant to do that because he tried to stop but couldn't."
Why bring any of this up at all? Well, I'm just trying to illustrate why Ovechkin's not an egotistical jerk. He's flamboyant, he's outrageous, he has fun, and he's always smiling or laughing. A little arrogant, maybe, but would a happy-go-lucky guy who tries to be respectful of others in the press go out of his way to be a jerk? Not unless he had a good reason to, and he really didn't in Tampa the other night.
If Ovechkin had been trying to insult the Lightning, he would've done his little stick dance right in front of the Lightning goaltender Mike McKenna - not off to the side and slightly behind the net. If he was trying to egg on or insult the entire team, he'd have celebrated right in front of the Lightning bench. Ovechkin's not shy, and he's not easily intimidated. So if he had been trying to be insulting, he would have gone there and been insulting.
Perhaps it was a bit inappropriate, but the guy had just scored his 50th goal of the season. Wouldn't you wanted have had a little fun with that? Do something special to celebrate to make it memorable? Something you could laugh about later on?
The real reason this is at all controversial is because Ovechkin did something flamboyant in the middle of a conservative sport. Canadians are a pretty conservative and reserved people, and they want to keep hockey just as conservative and reserved. That's why Sidney Crosby is the face of the NHL. Any signs that it may become more American (like football) upsets them greatly.
So next time you see Ovechkin do something a bit outrageous, keep this in mind: arrogant egotistical jerks rarely have a happy sense of humor.