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In honor of Jose Bautista’s bat flip, the 10 best NHL goal celebrations of all-time

Jared Clinton
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The Hockey News
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In honor of Jose Bautista’s bat flip, the 10 best NHL goal celebrations of all-time

Jared Clinton
By:

Jose Bautista celebrated his three-run home run with what has already become a legendary celebratory bat flip. So in honor of Bautista’s bomb, here are 10 of the best NHL goal celebrations of all-time. Sadly, no stick flips.

You may have heard the Toronto Blue Jays defeated the Texas Rangers in one of the most memorable playoff baseball games in recent memory. You may have also heard that Blue Jays star Jose Bautista hit a three-run home run to seal the victory for Toronto. Aside from clinching the game — and the series — what made the home run so memorable was Bautista’s on-field celebration following the blast. Upon contact with the pitch, he watched the ball sail over the left-field wall, looked back at Texas Rangers pitcher Sam Dyson and then Bautista proceeded to emphatically toss his bat towards the dugout. There are multiple angles of the home run, but this one might be the best, if only for Bautista’s facial expression: Bautista’s home run ranks up there with the greatest home run celebrations of all-time and would be the equivalent of an outrageous on-ice celebration after a goal. So, in honor of Bautista’s bat flip, here are the NHL’s 10 best goal celebrations: 10. May Day Brad May’s celebration of his Adams Division semifinal overtime-winner is great for both his reaction and the call by legendary Sabres play-by-play man Rick Jeanneret. Following the goal, May dodges his teammates, the referee and a linesman as he flies toward the Buffalo zone before leaping into the arms of goaltender Dominik Hasek. The celebration was fitting for the goal. May got by Hall of Fame defenseman Ray Bourque with a one-handed deke, put a nice move on Bruins goaltender Andy Moog and fired the puck into the net. It was May’s second career post-season goal. He scored four total in 88 playoff games. 9. Sniper celebration by Artem Anisimov ignites brawl Back when Anisimov was a member of the New York Rangers in 2011, he was on the receiving end of a beautiful shorthanded passing play. But after he had buried the puck, Anisimov darted off to celebrate, spun around and “fired” at the net. In return, Tampa Bay Lightning Vincent Lecavalier attempted to fire a few fists back. It might not have been well received by the Lightning, but it was one of the better and more creative celebrations we’ve seen. Had it been at the end of the game, maybe the Lightning let it go. 8. Milan Hejduk takes a dive From May, who scored 127 career goals, to Hejduk, who scored 375. No matter how many Hejduk scored, though, he never again celebrated a goal quite like his overtime-winner against the Dallas Stars in March 2000. It’s hard to say what exactly Hejduk was going for before he dove towards the ice, but it worked. His celebration remains one of the most memorable moments of a very stellar career. 7. Alex Kovalev moonwalks all over the Flyers In February 2001, Michael Jackson was still more than eight months away from releasing his final studio album Invicible. But the inspiration from the ‘King of Pop’ was flowing through Kovalev during a blowout of the Philadelphia Flyers. In a game that would end a 9-4 victory for Pittsburgh, Kovalev put the capper on an explosive night for the Penguins offense as he scored goal No. 9 and completed his hat trick. Then he pulled off his own version of the moonwalk. This was the first instance of Kovalev pulling the moonwalk off on NHL ice, but it wouldn’t be the last. 6. Wayne Gretzky runs to goal-scoring record One of the Gretzky’s beloved qualities was that he wasn’t one for boisterous celebrations, no matter how big the goal. That’s certainly understandable because celebrating 894 goals would get a bit tiresome. And that’s not including the 122 he scored in the post-season. But there was one goal that Gretzky celebrated like it was his last: his record-breaking 802nd goal, which came March 23, 1994. Gretzky would retire five seasons after scoring his record-breaking tally. 5. 50-goal stick is too hot to handle for Alex Ovechkin By the 2008-09 season, Ovechkin was already a two-time 50-goal scorer and his worst season was a 46-goal, 92-point campaign. That he was already an established scorer makes hit “hot stick” celebration even better, because it wasn’t a spur of the moment thing. This was planned, if even just the slightest bit. The best part is the way Ovechkin’s teammates approach him almost as if they’re puzzled as to what exactly he’s doing. 4. Sean Avery shows his upper body strength Avery was one of the more unique characters in the game and exactly the type of player who could get under the opposition’s skin while still contributing here and there on offense. On March 25, 2006, Avery did both at the same time. After skating the length of the ice and gaining the Predators’ zone, Avery fired a puck on Tomas Vokoun, which deflected behind the net. Avery was first to the loose puck, spun and sent a shot back towards the front of the net. The puck managed to find its way past Vokoun which led Avery to drop down and do a few pushups. 3. Overtime-winner sparks the Theo Fleury slide Like May’s moves, part of what makes Fleury’s overtime-winning goal celebration so great is that he’s dodging teammates on his way to celebrate almost entirely by himself. Fleury skates by a swarm of his Flames teammates after netting the winner and then proceeds to slide on his knees — at full speed, it’s worth noting — into the boards before being mobbed by teammates. Fleury’s celebration is up there among playoff moments and remains one of the most iconic celebrations in NHL history. 2. Tiger Williams rides his stick No player in NHL history was penalized more than Williams, but every single minute was worth it because it gave him time to think up this glorious celebration. It’s not as if the celebration came in a huge game, either. It was a mid-season game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Williams’ former team. 1. The New Boss Teemu Selanne’s chase of the rookie goal-scoring record with the Winnipeg Jets in 1992-93 was incredible. The then-15-year-old record was set by Mike Bossy, who had scored 53 in his rookie year with the New York Islanders. The 22-year-old Selanne started the season with eight goals in his first 10 games and the hype building around a potential record-setting season was off and running. By game 38, he had his 30th goal of the season. Nine games later, he had goal No. 40. Then on March 2, 1993, Selanne’s 64th game of his rookie season, he did it. With a hat trick against the Quebec Nordiques, Selanne overtook Bossy and set the rookie goal-scoring record. Selanne would end the season pushing the rookie record to new heights. By the time the season ended, the ‘Finnish Flash’ had netted 76 goals and 132 points. He ran away with the Calder Trophy, receiving all 50 first place votes. He even finished sixth in Hart Trophy voting. Not bad for a rookie.
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In honor of Jose Bautista’s bat flip, the 10 best NHL goal celebrations of all-time