Why won't Ovechkin get a new tooth?
Published: Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, March 16, 2011 16:03
Almost everyone that watches hockey is familiar with Alexander Ovechkin's toothless, dopey grin. If you don't know who he is, just keep an eye out for the mongoloid, caveman looking player who has a tongue poking out of his mouth where a tooth should be; you can't really miss him.
The Washington Capitals left wing lost one of his front teeth over three years ago in a game against the Atlanta Thrashers. The gaping hole that remains has nearly become his trademark. The question that thousands of people have asked since is: Why doesn't that crazy Russian just get a new tooth?
There are two sides to Ovie's tooth: those who embrace the gap and those who decry it as ridiculous. Let's take a look at each stance, and try to figure out why the little rascal just won't get a new tooth.
For those tooth-gap lovers, the stance is that hockey is the last stand in a dying breed of contact sports. It's the last great American (and Canadian) sport in which losing teeth, rupturing a spleen or possibly getting your neck slit open by an ice skate are acceptable and even celebrated as badges of honor. So in a way, losing a tooth to the great sport of hockey is a grand achievement—it shows that the player is a true warrior.
Besides the toothless grin has become something of a personal brand: Ovechkin is the gap and the gap is Ovechkin.
Hockey is not known to be the most fashionable sport, but gap-haters will say that Ovechkin's toothless smile further pushes it back to being simply known as a sport of primitive fistfights. Anyone who watches SportsCenter knows that hockey receives the least attention of any sport—it seems like ESPN would rather re-air Olympic curling repeatedly than talk about hockey. By having toothless goons like Ovechkin as the face of the sport, it only reinforces negative stereotypes.
For those gap-haters, the argument is based on money and looks. Ovechkin is one of the highest paid hockey players in the NHL, so even if he bought a new tooth and it got knocked out then replaced after every single game for the next 13 years, he would still have enough money to buy half of Russia. It is clearly not a financial problem for him.
So why won't Ovechkin get a new tooth? Is it because within the past three years, he has branded himself with the gap? Or is he just a stupid goon and doesn't care?
I think it's a combination of both: it is branding the hockey hooligan. Ovechkin's tooth gap, regardless of whether you love or hate it, is recognizable and unforgettable. I can't say for sure if that would make me want to buy whatever he is selling, but unlike most hockey players, at least we know exactly who he is when we see him.