The buzz around Alex Ovechkin's 5oth goal celebration won't die. The problem isn't that AO celebrated after scoring a goal, everybody does. Some celebrations are subtle; Mario Lemieux always seemed to be cool and collected while he calmly pumped his fist, Sidney Crosby of late has followed that model, some are elaborate; Theo Fleury once rode his stick across the rink to celebrate a playoff series winning OT goal, Teemu Selanne shot his glove out of the air, and I'm sure Penguins fans will never forget Darius Kasparaitis sliding across the rink celebrating his game 7 OT winner in Buffalo, but they all had one thing in common, they were spontaneous. The AO stick on fire celebration, was not only pre-planned, but in the words of Michael Scott from the Office it was "lame so it's double offensive." No one can take away the fact the AO is the best pure goal scorer in the league, but he is miles away from being the best all around player. AO doesn't kill penalties, on most nights he doesn't back check, and if there an Atwood-English Dictionary his picture would appear next the phrase "Cherry Picker." He is a physical presence, but he is by no means a tough guy. He has a history of head-hunting, and hitting from behind. I don't mean to tear the guy apart, but there seems to be a blind admiration for the guy. Most hockey fans are blinded by the goals, and most hockey reporters fall into the same habit. The thing we have to keep in mind is that those of us who are fans of the game, can look beyond of favorite teams and hold the players accountable regardless of the sweater they're wearing, while bandwagon fans, Johnny-come-lately's, and anti-Crosbites admire the guy for being a character. Hockey's characters need not resemble football and basketball buffoons. As the great Herb Brooks once said, we're not a "bunch of monkey’s hugging a football." The simple fact remains that Gary Bettman's efforts to remove violence from the guy in order to market it to people who don't want to watch it anyway has created the kind of environment where clowns like Avery and Ovechkin can flourish. At least in Avery's case he's willing to drop the gloves to back up his antics, AO not so much. If AO had done this 15 years ago he'd still be getting his nutrients via IV come playoff time. I'll end what has turned into a grumpy oldmanish rant by saying that if AO continues down this path, sure he'll still be a great goal scorer, but his legacy will be that of a clown. If I say TO which phrase pops into mind first, incredible talent, or incredible buffoon? A few more "hot stick" celebrations and AO will be the NHL's TO.
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