It’s always been a pet peeve of mine when people dig far under the surface to find the deeper meaning behind something that isn’t more than surface deep. Especially in sport, things are done in the heat of the moment without malicious intent that almost always get spiraled out of control by the fans and the media. But it is my firm belief that (usually) the players know what’s what. The latest “antic” from the New York Rangers’ is a prime example of a harmless act getting out of control off the ice.
We live in a very sensitive age – an age so sensitive that even adrenaline-driven athletes have to watch and be wary of everything they do – and that seems unreasonable. Especially given that most athletes understand this fact about eachother: you play with emotion. The smallest actions off the ice become huge on the ice because of emotions – but on the other side of that, these events are forgotten (usually) by the players the second they leave the ice. It’s the fans and reporters who dwell on the facts.
Anisimov is not the first player to perform a celebration of that manor, shaping his stick like a gun. He was merely trying to celebrate and brag that he sniped such a goal. He later apologized for the move even though he shouldn’t have had to. Anisimov told the press after the incident: “I just want to apologize to Tampa. I didn’t mean something by it. It’s just my celebration and, when I score goals, I want to do something unusual. I apologize to Tampa.”
That’s one side. What about the other side? Lecavalier has taken some heat (not as much as Anisimov, but a marginal amount) about charging Anisimov after the celebration move. This, again, is people off the ice overreacting. Hockey is a sport driven on emotion. As team captain, and now trailing by one goal, Lecavalier was strategizing, not being malicious. He was using the situation to get his team organized and fired up to come back from the one-goal deficit and win the game – and that worked.
Mind you, I could be wrong. But as someone who played hockey for several years of his life, I know what it’s like to use others emotional play to your advantage – even your own team’s. Lecavalier made the act seem like such a big deal that his team felt it necessary to get the best revenge in sport: the win. They did. Lecavalier’s strategy worked and I think it’s safe to say that if no one asked any questions about it, it would have been forgotten by both teams and their next game would have simply been just that – the next game.
But now it won’t be. The next time these teams play, the pre-game show will be nothing but a clip of Anisimov’s goal celebration being played on loop, and that’s unfortunate. The man will now be wary every time he scores a goal as he won’t be sure of what he’s allowed to do – which, in my opinion, if it doesn’t hurt anyone physically, he should be allowed to celebrate anyway he wants. But now he’s had the fun sucked out of the game for him, even though that’s sport. That’s competition. And it’s up to the other team to decide how they want to use it.
Follow on Twitter: @do_the_Ryan