OVECHKIN AND THE NO FUN LEAGUE

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OVECHKIN AND THE NO FUN LEAGUE
(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

I really don’t understand what the big deal is with Alexander Ovechkin’s latest goal celebration. He is basically showing passion for the game that he grew up playing in Russia. He’s brought some of this excitement to the NHL, which is in need of a boost both economically and in terms of TV ratings in the United States.

For those of you that missed it, Ovechkin came bursting down the wing and beat three skaters in his path, and then unloaded a high wrist shot into the top left corner of the net. He then proceeded to put his stick down on the ice behind the net and pretended to be warming up his hands as if his stick was “on fire”.

You can bet this will be a hot topic and will be talked about all across Canada, and maybe in some parts of the U.S.

Nick Kypreos, analyst for Sportsnet Hockey Central, was so furious at the celebration it looked as though he was ready to come out of your TV set and attack you. I can’t wait to see what Don Cherry has to say about this on the next Coaches Corner.

If you remember the last time Cherry talked about goal celebrations in the NHL, he made various references to Ovechkin’s goal celebrations and compared them to some of the ridiculous goal celebrations in soccer.

I wouldn’t be comparing Ovechkin’s “hot stove” celebration to a Spanish soccer player biting his teammate’s lower body part.

As much as I respect both Cherry and Kypreos, I don’t think much should be made about Ovechkin’s overzealous goal celebrations.

He’s a player that is passionate about the game. He’s got the ferocity of Scott Stevens when it comes to hitting opponents and the finesse and skill of Wayne Gretzky when it comes to scoring and play making.

He’s scored over 200 goals in his short career thus far and he isn’t going to stop.

In the NFL, the so called "No Fun League", we’ve witnessed outlandish touchdown celebrations of the likes of the Chad Johnson river dance, the Terrell Owens pomp pomp celebration, and who could forget the Sharpie?  

The NFL loves to crack down on these celebrations and any player that celebrates with any form of shenanigans is subject to a fine. This is why critics dub the NFL as the NO FUN LEAGUE.

The one difference between the NFL and the NHL is that the NFL doesn’t need to find creative ways to market the game in the United States. With strong television contracts, a firm grip on labor costs, the highest revenues of the four major sports and the fact that there has not been a work stoppage since 1987 is why this is the case.

Ever since the NHL lost its television contract with ESPN in 2004, they have been without a national carrier for its games, and therefore, hockey highlights have been demoted to the end of the ESPN Sports Center broadcasts.  

The average annual salary has grown about 16 percent since 1990 and there have been three work stoppages since 1987. Not to mention there are teams in the South East and the Phoenix Coyotes that have lost tens of millions of dollars since the lockout.  

If people want to cry about Ovechkin’s antics, maybe they should consider the owners of those teams bleeding money every year because fans just don’t care.  

There is hope that Ovechkin and his wild goal celebrations will spark interest, and hopefully people like Cherry and Kypreos will get used to this, as there is plenty more of Ovechkin to come.

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