TSN Arrives, Boudreau Goes Off
Alex Ovechkin's 50th goal celebration will only become yesterday's news when yesterday was in 2014. Apparently the morning skate media crowd at the Leafs game on Tuesday was one of the team's largest of the season, all for Ovechkin celebration chatter. And then, this morning at KCI, we said hello to a TSN crew, down from Ottawa to talk about...Ovechkin's celebration, and whether there will be fireworks tomorrow night when Tampa comes to town. They had to fight to get rooms with Cherry Blossoming tourists. Love the whole thing.
"It's what everybody's talking about," Brent Wallace, the network's Ottawa correspondent, told me. "Well, maybe it's just what the media's talking about, but everybody's continued to talk about it....We're in the entertainment industry, hockey's an entertainment industry, and so it's entertainment. And that's what Alex did....Is it overblown? It probably gets overhyped, for sure. But it is overblown? It's something different. We're in game 71, 72, 73, and yeah the playoff races are good, but let's talk about something that's maybe a little different, instead of what line's playing where and who's gonna have 40 goals on the year. This is just something everybody gravitates to. They can understand it. It's celebration. It's entertainment."
Fair enough. I can't complain about anyone stoking such interest. And players in the locker room gave TSN the sort of quotes you'd expect: this was a one-time thing, Ovie had just reached a magic number, we don't expect anything will happen, etc. One player joked about the celebration he might do when he reaches 50 goals. For his career.
And Bruce Boudreau? Well, in the spirit of pre-planned explosions, he waited for the subject to be raised, and then he sort of responded. Mildly.
"You wanna go there?" he asked the first reporter to broach the topic. "It's 10 friggin' days since it happened. We have talked to Tampa's coaches. We have said our speech. The people that are bringing the crap up are you guys. Nobody cares about it anymore. You guys want to bring it up because you want to see a riot, then you want to talk about retribution. It's the dumbest thing in the world. You gotta have better stuff to talk about.
"You guys coming from Toronto [sic] to find out an answer on retribution, where there should be no retribution at all. He scored his 50th goal in a zero-zero game. It wasn't eight-nothing, where he made a mockery. If Tampa scores a couple of goals and wants to do a celebration, go for it. We have talked to everybody we can talk about. It's a done deal as far as I'm concerned....
"I forget things that have happened 10 minutes later. They will probably try really, really hard to beat us, and that would be the best retribution for Tampa is to work their rear-ends off to beat us. But for something that was not meant to harm anybody in anyway, it was a personal celebration. To me seems like the dumbest thing in the world....
"To even bring this up, I mean, there is certainly to God, hockey has more stuff going on. The playoff races are so intense and so tight that we are talking about a 3 second thing. I feel like Allen Iverson talking about practice for crying out loud. It's Dumb! It's Dumb! Let's get over it. you guys get over it and the teams have both gotten over it. So it's up to the media to get over it."
Uh. Ok, that's a different view, I guess. I'm going to talk to myself about getting over it, but that's an uphill climb, for sure. Anyhow, Boudreau's words guaranteed that this will now be a bigger story on TSN than it otherwise would have been, while the Caps own Web site led with the Boudreau clip even though it came in the middle of his remarks.
As for TSN, Wallace said D.C. is one of their top-three U.S. destinations, along with Pittsburgh and Buffalo, and that "the reason we come here is because of Alex...It's because the best player in the game is playing here, and he's by far the most exciting and entertaining guy around. I mean, people love him in Canada."
(Ovechkin on the Tampa game? "If somebody wants to hit me, always pleasure," he said. "I'm ready. I don't care what's gonna happen. I'm ready. But I don't think it's gonna be some war, fights, hits.")
I asked Ovechkin whether he keeps track of his SportsCenter and SportsCentre exploits: "No,"he said, "I just go to Internet and watch over there some highlights or talking about something. On YouTube? "Always," he said.
As for the extended hype-front moving down from the North, "I think we deserve it," Ovechkin said. "I think we deserve the attention. We play well, we in the playoff spots, we first in our division, third in our conference, and it's a big step so I think our team need more, how you say, PR? So we deserve it, we have great players, so why not?"
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