Ovie defends himself

MIKE ZEISBERGER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 2:39 PM ET

He shot. He scored. He celebrated.

So what's the big deal?

Alex Ovechkin would like to know.

The Great Eight, as he is known in Washington, created a mini-controversy last Thursday in Tampa. Having just scored his 50th goal of the season, Ovechkin placed his stick on the ice, then began waving his hands over it, suggesting his twig was too hot to pick up.

Lightning players and staff, not to mention Don Cherry, felt the reaction was inappropriate, inferring that Ovechkin was attempting to rub it in the opposition's collective faces. Cherry went so far as to imply that an opponent might one day try to take Ovechkin's head off if such in-your-face celebrations continue.

Ovechkin can not understand what all the fuss is about. In his mind, he was just showing emotions after recording such a milestone moment.

"If you win the lottery -- a million dollars -- you go to the bar and drink a lot," Ovechkin told a gaggle of reporters this morning at the Air Canada Centre, where his Washington Capitals meet the Maple Leafs tonight.

"I scored 50 goals and just wanted to celebrate."

Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau remembers the 1970s when celebrations included Maple Leafs pugilist Dave (Tiger) Williams riding his stick down the ice after scoring a goal.

Asked why Williams' actions never stirred up the same amount of controversy that Ovechkin's did, Boudreau replied: "Because it was a Leaf that did it. If it would have been a Leaf who scored their 50th goal, everyone would have been fine with it."

Ovechkin's reaction seems tame compared to other sports.

In baseball, Manny Ramirez often poses at the plate after hitting one of his patented moonshots.

In basketball, players like Kobe Bryant and LeBron James regularly hot dog when completing one of their highlight-reel dunks.

And in football, Chad Johnson and Terrell Owens have danced, waved cheerleaders' pom poms, you name it.

So what's all the hub bub about concerning Ovechkin?

"It's not like he pulled out a Sharpie, signed his stick, then gave it to Ron (Wilson)," Boudreau laughed, referring to the Maple Leafs coach.

Owens, of course, made headlines during his days with the San Francisco 49ers when he celebrated a touchdown by pulling a Sharpie out of his sock, signed the ball, then handed it to someone in the stands.

Boudreau feels Ovechkin's celebrations stir up the fans.

"You just watch tonight -- every time he touches the puck, a buzz will go through the crowd," Boudreau said. "That's the anticipation of them wanting to see him score a goal so they can see what he might do."

Just one question: Can a Sharpie fit in a player's skate?


Videos

Photos