It started at the World Cup of Hockey. During a game between Russia and the Under-23 North American squad, Evgeny Kuznetsov picked up the puck in the defensive zone and wound up. Cutting down the ice, he beat one check, sped through the neutral zone and drove hard to the net. In one motion, Kuznetsov slipped the puck past the stick of Morgan Rielly and fired it on goal, beating goaltender Matt Murray to put Russia ahead 3-1.
And then Kuznetsov threw down what one would now argue has become his signature celebration, flapping his arms with one leg in the air like a goal-scoring flamingo. It’s a move he said he borrowed from EA Sports’ FIFA series.
And it was awesome.
Kuznetsov has since busted out the celebration a couple more times, and it’s happened twice during the post-season. The first came on familiar grounds, at the Air Canada Center, where the celebration had originated. After scoring to put Washington up 3-1, Kuznetsov lifted his leg and flapped his arms to celebrate his goal. And Thursday night he was back it, this time in front of the home fans at the Verizon Center, busting a move after scoring the game-tying goal in the third period.
Those who dislike shows of flamboyance will despise Kuznetsov’s celebratory shenanigans, calling it childish or stupid, all the while pointing to the fact the Capitals have gone on to lose both games Kuznetsov has attempted to fly away in. But, hey, hockey’s meant to be fun, and you can’t honestly say that celebrating like Kuznetsov doesn’t look at least a bit enjoyable.
More importantly, though, Kuznetsov’s repeated use of the celebration gives us an NHLer with a go-to post-goal move. He’s not the only one with a signature celebration. Here are five other players who can be recognized by their celebration alone:
Jaromir Jagr, The Salute
The most iconic celebration of all. Others have thrown out single celebrations that may stand out more — think Teemu Selanne glove hunting or Alex Ovechkin’s hot stick — but the post-goal salute is synonymous with one player and one player only. The surefire roots of the salute aren’t known, it’s been said it’s because he liked former Denver Broncos running back Terrell Davis’ Mile High Salute, but wherever it came from, the NHL saw it often.
In recent years, the salute has fallen by the wayside and he hasn’t busted it out in some time, but if Jagr knows he’s skating into the final season of his career one of these years, it’d be fun to watch him punctuate every goal with a salute. Seems only fitting that it would cap off his final goals.
P.K. Subban, The P.K. PoseSubban’s on-ice exuberance is one of the many things to love about the Predators defenseman and that includes the sheer joy he displays after lighting the lamp. His goals are always followed with some sort of big celebration, and most of the time that means dropping to one knee, sliding along the ice and cocking his arm back before punching the air.
The pose after the goal has become the signature of P.K.’s brand, his answer to the iconic foul line dunk silhouette that is the symbol of Michael Jordan’s lines. The shadowy outline of the one-knee slide celebration is on shirts and hats, and it’s even up in the top corner of Subban’s website.
If the celebration wasn’t great enough, Subban made a nice little addition on his first goal in Nashville, adding a lasso motion before striking the pose.
Alexander Radulov, The Swordsman
Radulov is a blast to watch for a ton of reasons. He’s skilled with the puck, makes plenty of how-did-he-do-that plays and is a constant threat when he’s on the ice. Best of all, though, there’s always the chance that he’s going to score and bust into a wild celebration, one which usually ends with him sheathing his stick like he’s just finished off a ferocious sword fight.
The shame of it all is that Radulov seemingly toned it down this past season in Montreal. When he was plying his trade in the KHL, it wasn’t all too rare to watch Radulov pretty much lose his mind after filling the net. If he ever scores a big goal — post-season overtime winner big — he’s got to get back to flying up the ice at mach speed before pulling off his celebration.
Patrick Kane, Heartbreaker
Football players are way better at this creative celebration thing than hockey players. Terrell Davis has already been mentioned, and Kane’s signature celebration — he’s done it twice, so we’ll count it — comes from the NFL, as well. Kane was a fan of Miami Dolphins defensive end and sack machine Jason Taylor, and felt it appropriate to incorporate one of Taylor’s celebrations during two instances in the post-season.
The first came against Vancouver during Chicago’s hotly contested rivalry with the Canucks. After scoring on Roberto Luongo in Game 6 of the second-round series, Kane celebrated by drawing the outline of a heart, rearing back and punching through it. The next time he did it, though, it was an even bigger goal against the Los Angeles Kings. This one sent the Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup final.
Alexandre Burrows and Luc Bourdon, Bow And Arrow
The celebration itself is simple. Burrows holds his stick out, pulls an imaginary arrow from a quiver, pulls back and let’s that arrow fly. But of all the players who have a so-called signature celebration, none have the same meaning as Burrows’ bow and arrow routine.
The move, which Burrows has been doing for nearly a decade now, is a tribute to late friend and teammate Luc Bourdon, who tragically passed away in May 2008 in a motorcycle accident at age 21. Bourdon was a promising young defenseman, a former member of Canada’s World Junior Championship squad, who had been drafted 10th overall by the Canucks in 2005. During his major junior career, Bourdon used to bust the bow and arrow move out as his own celebration, and Burrows began to use it shortly after Bourdon’s passing, always gazing up.