NHL

Your Call: How much is too much with goal celebrations?

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TSN.ca Staff
12/9/2011 1:11:27 PM
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Sticks in the air, a pat on the head and high fives with the bench; are these the only ways you are allowed to celebrate a goal in the NHL?

During Thursday night's game between the New York Rangers and the Tampa Bay Lightning, Rangers forward Artem Anisimov scored a  shorthanded goal, turned his stick around and pointed it towards Lightning goalie Mathieu Garon. The response from the Lightning was immediate. First, captain Vincent Lecavalier tried to get to Anisimov but was restrained by a linesman. Then, Steve Downie came on the ice and a skirmish ensued.

"It was disrespectful to point directly at our net and our goalie," Lecavalier said.

The post-goal scrum resulted in a combined 36 penalty minutes among two Rangers and three Lightning players.

Anisimov was punished the harshest with a four-minute penalty for roughing and a 10-minute misconduct. Downie was assessed a roughing penalty and a misconduct.   "He was wrong and he knows it," Rangers head coach John Tortorella said of Anisimov. "He apologized to his teammates and we will move on from this."

Should he apologize? How much is too much for a goal celebration?

In 2009, Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin was criticized for going over the top with the celebration that followed his 50th goal. 

After scoring on Lightning goaltender Mike McKenna, the Capitals starstopped behind the net, put his stick on the ice and pretended to warm his hands over it.

This celebration might have been exuberant but it was not spontaneous.

"He told me he was going to do it," said teammate Mike Green after the game. "He wanted me to join in, but there was no way I'd join in on that. I just kind of stood back and let him do what he does."

The reaction among players at the time was mixed.

"I loved it actually, I thought it was great," said current Los Angeles Kings defenceman Willie Mitchell. "I thought it was good for our game and you know if it was Willie Mitchell scoring his fourth or fifth of the season and throwing his stick down on the ice and doing that, I don't think that's right. But he is a personality, he's exciting, he's fun to watch."

While Mitchell thought it was fun, Colorado Avalanche defenceman Shane O'Brien took a different view the day after the celebration.

"I wasn't a real big fan of it. If I would have been on the ice, I might have gone over and maybe tried to stop him from doing it," said O'Brien. "I'll never come close to scoring 50 goals so I'll never have to worry about what my celebration would be like."

Does the numeric value or importance of the goal change the context of the celebration?

After scoring his rookie record 54th goal of the season during the 1992-93 season, Teemu Selanne threw his glove in the air and pretended to shoot it with his hockey stick. It's a play that is routinely included on lists of the greatest NHL celebrations of all time. Philadelphia Flyers forward Jaromir Jagr also became well known for removing his glove and saluting after every goal.

Are these players showing disrespect for their opponents? Or should you be allowed to celebrate every goal in the fashion that you see fit? Does the spontaneity of the actions change your opinion on the celebration?

How much is too much when it comes to goal celebrations? It's Your! Call.

Artem Anisimov (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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