How should an athlete react when he makes a successful play? It's a tough question because there is no all-encompassing answer.
Some would say that these are professional athletes, and they should act like it. Flaunting a goal is not what "hockey is all about". This narrative is not only out-dated, but predictable.
We heard the ire when Tomas Hertl scored a highlight goal vs the Rangers, we heard it when Nail Yakupov let his emotions boil over and slid across the ice in Edmonton, and we definitely heard it ad nauseam recently with Pacioretty's sword celebration.
Here's the thing, we complain that hockey players are boring, vanilla, mundane, yet we jump at any chance to cast spurs once they show the slightest emotion. To me hockey is all about passion, emotion and fanaticism.
Pacioretty was criticized when he wasn't celebrating goals earlier in the season, apparently it showed a lack of emotion, and narratives were drawn up that Pacioretty was unhappy.
Fast forward to December, and the narrative has completely flipped. Pacioretty now shows too much passion according to many.
I have absolutely no problem watching Max Pacioretty celebrate a goal. Hell, as it stands Montreal's goals are so few and far between that we should be expecting an over-abundance of intensity whenever a player scores a goal.
Pacioretty is currently leading the club in goals, he led the team last year and was 2nd to Erik Cole in 2010.
He gets to celebrate any damn way he wants, as long as it remains within the realm of reason.
Whether it be a the 'salute', the 'board jump' or the 'ice fist pump', none of these celebrations have been deemed unacceptable, and neither should Pacioretty's sword celebration. Every time he puts the puck into the net he makes 21 273 fans celebrate, surely he can join in on the celebration as well.
He's a goal scorer. When he puts the puck in the net he's happy, and we should be too. It doesn't matter if it's an empty net goal or if the Habs are up 15-0. An athlete has the right to celebrate an accomplishment any way he deems fit, as long as it remains inoffensive. If he wants to pick up Desharnais and twirl him like a figure skating partner, that's up to him.
According to some he runs the risk of inspiring the opposition, as we saw for a grand total of 22 seconds vs Toronto. I wouldn't worry about that. Teams that rely on their opposition scoring to inspire them are not a threat to this club.
There are way too many issues within this organization to lose any sleep over a rather mild celebration from the team's best goal scorer.
The issue I have when someone says "act like you've been there before", is that Pacioretty has been there before. In fact, he's been "there" more often than any other Habs forward over the last three years. He's earned the right to celebrate.
I, for one, hope to see the celebration as much as possible this year, and I am sure Pacioretty's teammates feel the same way.