Video: Ovechkin brings the hot-stick celebration to video gaming

When Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals was named the cover boy for NHL 2K10, we jokingly wondered: "Will virtual Don Cherry criticize his video game box celebration?"

After catching some scenes from Ovechkin's public motion capture session on the Las Vegas strip yesterday, we're really hoping that some digital avatar of Grapes is added to the game; if only to wag his finger in disapproval and say "you're above this" when virtual AO goes into his "fire stick" celebration, as video footage chronicled from his 2K Sports mo-cap session.

If you ever wanted to see Ovechkin and Ryan Kesler covered in glowing orbs on fake ice in Las Vegas ...  Merry Christmas.

First, some images from the mo-cap session in Vegas yesterday.

Here are Ovechkin and Ryan Kesler of the Vancouver Canucks, and boy those new Reebok jerseys are form-fitting (/snark). Ovechkin is, as mentioned, the cover model for NHL 2K10; Kesler was on hand so producers could capture footage for the game's new Pain-In-The-Ass mode (if only that were true).

Ovechkin appears to be curiously glaring at the 2K Sports guy. While it might be because he's wearing an Ovechkin T-shirt, we believe it's the first time Ovie has seen a Kansas City Royals fan.

One of the great things about the mo-cap session is pulling back the curtain on the making of these games. The tiny glowing white orbs on the suits help computers map a "digital skeleton" for the players. Judging from the dimensions of this avatar, Kyle Wellwood must have snuck onto the synthetic ice at some point.

Ovechkin surveys the fake ice in his mo-cap suit, wondering what sort of goofy fall-on-your-back-and-smack-the-puck-with-your-stick goal he'll attempt that can be executed with 27 wand shakes and button combos on the Nintendo Wii version of the game.

From the Las Vegas Sun, here's some on-site flavor from the event:

As for the simulation of their scoring skills Tuesday, however, the highlight came when Ovechkin, skating to the chants of 'Ovi, Ovi, Ovi' from beyond the iron fences, performed his much-maligned 'burning stick' routine after scoring from up close.

After scoring his 50th goal of the season in March, the 23-year-old Caps winger put his stick down on the ice and pretended to warm his hands over it as if it were on fire.

It will look identical when NHL 2K10 is released, patented gold laces and all.

"It was pretty fun to score 50 goals and I tried to celebrate," Ovechkin said. "I don't care what people say, what people think. I say life is good, life is beautiful, I'm enjoying my life."

Ovechkin toyed with the crowd some, bobbing his head to the chants at times and flashing his signature gap-toothed grin before exiting for a night of celebrating his first night out in Vegas with his entourage.

Yes indeed, the fire-stick celebration was captured on the ice. Via Leahy, here's some YouTube of the event; check out around the 40-second mark:

And some more amateur footage of the event:

So does the inclusion of the "fire stick" thing -- assuming it makes the cut -- reaffirm that it was shameless self-promotion and somehow bad for the NHL on a sportsmanship front? Or does is it an indication that the casual, video-game purchasing hockey fan craves that sort of showmanship?

If nothing else, the NHL 2K10 at Caesars Palace is a spectacular launch for the title. Let's hope the game can approach the pre-release hype.

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