- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 24, 2009



Alex Ovechkin staged a planned goal celebration last week, and the hockey community paused for everyone to a) rejoice about the infusion of creativity and showmanship for a sport that sorely misses it or b) renounce his diabolically selfish and anti-establishment behavior.

Nobody seemed to care that Ovechkin just accomplished something that only two other players in NHL history have - score 50 goals at least three times in his first four seasons in the league - because they were too busy using his “my stick is too hot to touch” routine as an opportunity to dust off the soapbox.

The truth is Ovechkin’s antics weren’t that big of a deal. Did he cross some imaginary line in hockey ethics because it was premeditated? Maybe. Is one moment of excess for a special occasion acceptable from a player who puts people in the seats because of his enthusiasm? Probably.

But was it really worth the excess of attention it received? Almost certainly not. Members of the Tampa Bay Lightning threatened retribution, but what did they do in the final 52 minutes of the game? Lightning goalie Steve McKenna said he could have “done a spin move” when he stopped Ovechkin on a breakaway. McKenna also could have not given up four more goals in another lopsided loss to Washington.

Maybe everyone is running out of material as the postseason approaches, but it is hard not to feel like Ovechkin’s actions were just another overblown issue for people to take a side about and opine. There is plenty to write about with Ovechkin these days. Is he still a lock for his second straight MVP? Why does he seem allergic to backchecking beyond the red line on some shifts? But enough scrutinizing his celebrations - the sport will be able to move forward regardless of what he chooses to do in the future.


Montreal Canadiens

Let’s see - there is a team in Eastern Canada that is crashing to the finish line as a season that began with much promise has been derailed by poor goaltending and off-ice shenanigans. Montreal Canadiens, meet last season’s Ottawa Senators.

Much like their rivals did a year ago, the Canadiens are unraveling. Wunderkind goalie Carey Price looks more like the second coming of Jim Carey than Patrick Roy these days. Half of the forwards on the roster have not met expectations. Distractions have been plentiful, from compromising photos to associations with mobsters, from half the roster looking ahead to free agency to failed relations with a well-respected coach.

This season has become a train wreck for the proudest franchise in the sport, and a five-game losing streak in the middle of a “playoff push” isn’t helping. It is a good thing this wasn’t supposed to be a special year with the team’s 100th anniversary to celebrate or anything.


1. Detroit Red Wings (LW: 1)

The Winged Wheel is rounding into form for another Cup run.

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