Thanks to Capitals Radio’s Ben Raby, we now know that Monday was a very special day in Caps history. March 19, 2018, marked the nine-year anniversary of Alex Ovechkin’s hot stick celebration.
On March 19, 2009, Ovechkin sniped a shot past Tampa Bay goaltender Mike McKenna to score his 50th goal of the season. With the tally, Ovechkin became the first player in Capitals history to record three 50-goal seasons. Ovechkin dropped his stick as if it were aflame and warmed his cold Russian hands with the imaginary burning kindling. Meanwhile, none of Ovechkin’s bashful teammates, such as Mike Green or Nicklas Backstrom, joined in despite the Russian machine calling them over.
The goal was an absolute rocket.
Ovechkin had three points (1 goal and 2 assists) on the night. The hot stick would go down in the annals of NHL celly history.
“If I score 50 goal, just put my stick on ice and make it like ‘hot, hot, hot’ you know?” Ovechkin said to Craig Laughlin after the game.
In the locker room, Ovechkin was pie’d by his teammates. Reporters asked about the celebration as well.
“Me, Jose Theodore, Backstrom, Greenie said like if I score goal, Jose tell me ‘Just put the stick on the ice and try like do like it’s hot, so hot,’” Ovechkin said. “Backy stop and Greenie stop. So I just do it myself.”
But back in these cold, dark days of the NHL, Ovechkin’s exuberant jubilee resulted in both the Lightning and the Capitals calling the future Hall of Famer out for showboating.
“I think he’s a terrific player. He went down a notch in my books after that,” Lightning interim coach Rick Tocchet said. “It’s not something I like.
“It’s hard for me to accept, to see something like that in our building.”
Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said he planned to speak to Ovechkin about the orchestrated showmanship.
“He has never done that with me that I’ve seen,” Boudreau said. “He celebrates, but I think that was a little planned out.”
Defenceman Mike Green knew what to expect when Ovechkin reached the milestone, but he preferred to admire it from a distance.
“He told me he was going to do it,” Green said. “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.”
“[Don Cherry] is going to be pissed off for sure,” Ovechkin said. “He’s going to be pissed off. Can’t wait he say something about me. Saturday night. Coach’s Rumor? Coach’s Corner. It’s pretty good.”
Cherry had this to say.
“Ovechkin, Alex. Is that his name? You’re listening now,” Don Cherry said. “How would you like to be playing for Tampa? They’ve going through a nightmare season. It’s in their building. They’re being beat 5-1 and you score on a rookie goalie. How do you think McKenna feels about this? Good guys like St. Louis said ‘he didn’t have to embarrass us.’ Good guys like Malone said, ‘he’s going to get a payback.’ And Tocchet said the same thing, ‘we didn’t need something like that.’ You don’t do that.”
“And you know? Everybody said he’s taunting them. The guy’s not a mean guy. He’s not taunting them,” Cherry continued. “He didn’t mean to taunt them. But think how bad the rookie feels? You can’t do stuff like that and not make people feel bad. But he’s not a mean guy. He’s just having a good time.”
In 2015, former Capitals goaltender Jose Theodore said in a French language interview with Le Journal de Montréal that the hot stick celebration was indeed his idea.
Alex Ovechkin was criticized for his burning stick reaction when he scored his 50th goal in 2010, but I will make a confession to you. He was searching for an original way to celebrate and it was me who suggested to him the burning stick concept. The scoundrel never gave me credit for the concept, but I must say that his execution was some sort of failure. In fact, he looked more like a guy playing the piano than like a guy warming his hands near a fire. Also, the guys were supposed to gather around the stick, but they were shy and did not follow. The moment still made history and we had a good laugh.
Since then the goal celly has landed in multiple video games.
And is one of RMNB’s best selling tshirts.
Ovechkin has scored 50 goals four more times since and needs seven tallies in his next 10 games to hit the mark again in 2017-18.
Headline photo: Mike Carlson
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
All original content on russianmachineneverbreaks.com is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)– unless otherwise stated or superseded by another license. You are free to share, copy, and remix this content so long as it is attributed, done for noncommercial purposes, and done so under a license similar to this one.