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The talk of the town, well outside of the sad pitiful state that is Avsland (which Tilt'd summed up quite nicely) , is Alexander Ovechkin's "Stick on Fire" goal celebration after his 50th goal of the season against Tampa last night. When Mirtle, Wyshynski, and NHL Fanhouse have posts on it, then you know it's a big deal.

For those of you who live in a cave, hike 45 miles in the snow uphill both ways to come to town and barter fresh tomatoes and Lima beans from your garden for 5 minutes of internet access and use those precious 5 minutes checking my website (i.e. my parents) here's the video:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wa9vIQzzg38&color1=0xb1b1b1&color2=0xcfcfcf&hl=en&feature=player_embedded&fs=1]

The "Nurse Ratched" hockey establishment was able to successfully lobotomize their biggest pest, Sean Avery, earlier in the season. After flexing their muscles on a reasonably well-known player, they set their targets on the big fish. The hockey establishment wants to humble Alexander Ovechkin. Don Cherry fired the first shot by criticisng Alexander Ovechkin's exuberant goal celebrations. Usually this is enough to humble most hockey players, who are known for their don't rock-the-boat mentality. Ovechkin's celebration wasn't taunting the Tampa Lightning, Ovechkin was taunting Don Cherry. This was Ovechkin getting on stage and belting out
You gotta fight.
For your right.
To Paaaaaaaaar-ty


I love the celebration because it adds another dimension to the Crosby-Ovechkin rivalry, which has gone from manufactured to real over the course of this season. Sydney Crosby is the Pop music of the NHL. He's the guy the league has backed as their own. He's the guy that shows up at the league's corporate events to shake hands with the suits. The premier Winter Classic was a Crosby showcase, and NHL sponsored ads feature him relentlessly. He is Frankie Avalon, The Osmands, Bryan Adams The Fresh Prince, Matchbox 20, and Justin Timberlake He is hockey establishment's golden boy, so much so that they overlook his foibles, such as punching guys in the groin from behind or jumping unsuspecting second line forwards off the face-off.

If Crosby is Pop music, Ovechkin is Rock and Roll. He embraces the photos of him hammered circulating the web. Talks openly about driving too fast. His image is one of ugliness and messy hair. He openly taunts Crosby on the ice, and now he openly taunts the hockey establishment. Ovechkin is The Who,The Doors, The Clash, The Beastie Boys, Bad Religion, and The Red Hot Chilli Peppers. He's a guy the establishment wants to promote, because of his talent, but is always a little scared of because of his individuality.

And Hockey needs that rebellion. Rabble-rousing is good, and it keeps the monarchy from getting to comfortable. If nothing else it forces hockey to take an introspective look inward and question itself.

So I will continue to celebrate Ovechkin's individuality and his rebellious spirit. And the next time Don Cherry spouts off about Ovechkin's "disrespect" of the game, I hope Ovechkin scores a goal, channels his inner Pete Townshend, and smashes his hockey stick like a guitar.