January 15, 2009

Hockey and Personality

Screen Shots: Hockey players need to speak their mind, says Roenick
“Then you look at Ovechkin – his heart is on his sleeve, he’s out there smiling all the time, he’s talking during games, he’s jumping in the air after he scores, he’s not afraid to say what he wants to say during interviews.

“Every time he’s out there, he’s showing the people what a joy it is to play hockey. We need as many guys like him as we can get.”
The cliché thing in player interviews has gotten a lot better over the years. A lot better, actually. Sometimes, tho, the cliché thing can be pretty funny. What I'd wish would stop are the announcers and their clichés.

The problem, really, is the fact that these guys have all of the personality of a dead fish during interviews. I mean, you can say a cliché with a sense of humor, and that'd be fine. However, there are some people that just don't really have much in way of a personality, and there's not a lot you can do about that. And it doesn't help that they're interviewing most of these guys when they get off the ice still gasping to catch their breath, either.

That's why people like Ovechkin - he has personality. When you watch him play hockey, you know that he's doing it because he truly enjoys it. There are a few other guys like that in the NHL, but almost none are as exuberant about it as Ovechkin is. Except maybe Prospal.

It isn't so much the culture in hockey, but more that many of the countries that produce hockey players have reserved cultures themselves. Sweden's a classic example of that, as is Canada. It's just not in their nature as a people to be overly demonstrative about much of anything, really. Americans have this distressing tendency to speak their minds, which is why people like Tortorella, Hull (I know - dual citizenship), and Roenick are so popular with the press.

The biggest change has been the difference between the Soviet-era guys and the modern Russian-era guys. Ovechkin vs. Bure, for instance. Pavel Bure came off as being a quiet and reserved guy - as did most of the guys who grew up playing hockey under the Soviet Union. He had big potential to be as firey and passionate as Ovechkin, but that just wasn't the way of things in his country when he came over to play in the NHL. So I think it's as much national character as anything else.

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