Wed Jul 28 12:30pm EDT
The intense coverage of Max Talbot(notes) calling Alex Ovechkin(notes) "a real douche" during a morning zoo radio interview Tuesday is either indicative of this summer's lack of compelling hockey news, the intensity of the Pittsburgh Penguins' rivalry with the Washington Capitals or our society's obsession with feminine hygiene. Though probably not that last one.
It's also arguably the most controversial incident of player-on-player mockery since Sean Avery's(notes) "sloppy seconds" barb aimed at Dion Phaneuf(notes). Luckily, commissioner Gary Bettman shouldn't have any problem explaining Talbot's crack to his daughter, so we aren't likely to see a suspension/lobotomy like the New York Rangers pest received last year.
In you missed it, Talbot told 105.9 The X in Pittsburgh (transcript here) that he was happy Ovechkin wasn't attending Tuesday's Winter Classic press conference at Heinz Field because "I just hate the guy."
On the ice? No, overall; like when he met Ovechkin for the first time at the NHL Awards in Las Vegas last summer and discovered that what he had heard about Ovechkin was accurate, at least in his mind: That the Capitals star was "a real douche."
That was the highpoint of this dust-up. Here are the five most ridiculous things about DoucheGate, not counting the fact that we referred to it as DoucheGate.
1. Max Talbot talks a big game ... over the phone
Talbot made the comments before the Winter Classic presser, which afforded media in attendance the chance to ask him to clarify or expand on his statements. The result: Talbot backtracked so forcefully it's a miracle the Earth didn't rotate off its axis. From the Washington Post:
Given the chance to explain himself at Tuesday's news conference, Talbot downplayed his comments.
"It's always a big rivalry and whatever you say the other team is not going to like," Talbot said. "He's a great player but he's not fun to play against. What can you say, stir up a little intensity?
"It was more about on-the-ice stuff than off the ice," Talbot added. "You hate to play against him. That's what I meant."
Uh, sure you did. He also said that as a French-Canadian, he wasn't sure what douche meant. Irony, thy name is Max Talbot.
2. Sometimes, naughty words need context
When TSN picked up the story Tuesday, it presented Talbot's most infamous slam on Ovechkin like this: "a real (expletive deleted)."
Look, any big media company has to be careful about crossing boundaries of good taste and adult content, unless you're doing a Photoshop contest. (Example: We had "DoucheGate" in our headline originally; guess where it is now?)
But in not even explaining what the "expletive" was, TSN either trafficked in bad journalism or cheap sensationalism, because (expletive deleted) makes it sound like Talbot called him something a hell of a lot worse than what you find on the bottom shelf at the pharmacy.
3. "Real Douche" > Winter Classic
You know what was amazing Tuesday? That Capitals president Dick Patrick predicted 20,000 Washington fans will invade Heinz Field for the game, which promises to make the 2011 Winter Classic the most intense rivalry experiences in the gimmick's short history. Consider that the rivalry has included Caps owner Ted Leonsis using computer programs to bar Pittsburgh fans from buying Caps playoff tickets, and it's a hell of a story.
Too bad you probably haven't heard it, because Max Talbot hates Alex Ovechkin.
(Kudos, by the way, to Leonsis for his subtle dig at Talbot on Wednesday.)
4. The incident led to an intense examination of the qualifications for douche status, and whether Alex Ovechkin is, in fact, a douche
Life is too short to list all the scholarship done on this matter in the last 24 hours, so we'll simply ask you to read No. 1 from this SB Nation post (s/t Pensblog) with the knowledge that it's legally permissible to assault another American citizen should they ever compare Alex Ovechkin to Don Draper of "Mad Men."
5. Finally, "douches" are now an unavoidable props in this hockey comedy
Since the Crosby vs. Ovechkin rivalry started, the prop comedy has favored Capitals fans. They show up with pacifiers and babies to Penguin/Caps games. One even dressed in a full SCUBA diver's outfit to mock Crosby's calculated tumbles to the ice.
Now, in a post-Talbot world? Let's just say it wouldn't shock us to hear sales of Summer's Eve spiked to record highs in the hours leading up to the first Caps/Pens game at CONSOL Energy Center next season.