Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 10/25/13 at 03:14 PM ET
from Mark Spector of Sportsnet,
There are no Terrell Owenses in the National Hockey League. Chad Ochocinco would have had the self-aggrandizement wrung out of him at his first training camp, and likely, the name bar would never have changed in hockey, as it did in the NFL. The closest thing hockey does have, however, is Alex Ovechkin, whose celebrations when he scores—or displays of public anguish when he doesn’t—are as natural as it comes.
Ovechkin wasn’t exactly self-promoting after sniping the opening goal of a 4–1 win Thursday in Edmonton when he quipped, “We score first, and it gives us a little bit freedom.” In fact, what we would have preferred to hear is this: “You just can’t get a puck more top-corner than that goal. I mean, wow! I’m not sure if it glanced off the crossbar, the post—or both!”
But if Ovechkin is not as eloquent in the postgame dressing room while conversing in his second language, it is on the ice where he speaks in his primary tongue—the language of hockey. There, he breathes life into a sport and a league mired in rules that forbid the tucking in of a jersey.
“Inside, everybody is excited. Everybody gets emotional. But some players are really good at blocking out the highs and lows,” said Oilers captain Andrew Ference, who saw a lot of Ovechkin during his time as a Bruin. “I’ve played with a lot of great players who keep their emotions in check. Externally, they’re not bubbly personalities. But once the game is over, they’re fully appreciative of what they’ve done.
“[Ovechkin’s] just different in the fact he’s very raw. He wears his emotions on his sleeve, which a lot of us don’t do. Simply because we don’t want that roller coaster.”
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