Recently Alex Ovechkin scored his 691st career NHL goal. It pushed him past Mario Lemieux in the league’s all-time scoring ledger. Ovechkin also passed a couple of other legends, who used social media and other channels to acknowledge and congratulate Ovechkin. Lemieux did not. Capitals fans, ever seeking the chance to feel marginalized and insecure have noticed this — namely in a Russian Machine Never Breaks blog titled “Steve Yzerman, Mark Messier, and Teemu Selanne have congratulated Alex Ovechkin on passing them in goals, Mario Lemieux hasn’t”
*ahem* We’re Waiting.
Obviously, Ovi’s breaking records at a record-breaking speed, but…c’mon, Mario. You’re one of Ovi’s idols!
In a very entitled culture in 2020 where everything must be shared and made a spectacle, the Caps’ fans will probably be left waiting. Near as can be told, it doesn’t look like Lemieux ever congratulated Jaromir Jagr in 2013 when Jagr passed Lemieux’s goal total. Nor in 2014 when Jagr passed Lemieux on the overall points list is there a readily available search engine result of the Pens’ owner tipping his cap to the former Pens’ legend.
So it’s probably fair to say giving public kudos and acknowledgement by releasing a statement he probably didn’t even write, just isn’t that high up on Lemieux’s priority list, for Ovechkin or anyone else. Mario Lemieux doesn’t have a personal twitter account. He very rarely gives interviews or speaks in great detail publicly. The Pens’ ownership is also reeling and grieving for the recent passing of Andrew Burkle, son of Ron Burkle. Celebrating Ovechkin’s 691st goal was (and should be!) a big deal in Washington, but it means little for Lemieux.
Lemieux didn’t congratulate Troy Polamalu on making the Pro Football Hall of Fame or the Chiefs for winning the Super Bowl or Pirates for continuing the slash payroll, so Ovechkin can know he’s in the company of everyone else when it comes to Mario Lemieux public acknowledgements about current sporting news.
Though partially tongue in cheek, there’s obviously the root of some of the Caps’ fanbase needled by this perceived snub. They’re used to an owner who has been very transparent and open in his public life by running a blog, tweeting, formerly answering all the emails he was sent by fans. That’s his choice for public interaction, but it certainly is not the personality or interest Lemieux has shared over the years in that realm. Does that make either wrong or right? No, just how they choose to operate.
Does Mario owe Ovechkin a public salute? No, he does not. It’s nice that other stars have gone out of their way to give a little nod to Ovechkin. It is 2020 and for the most part nothing goes unacknowledged in this day and age. Lemieux could easily get the Pens to release an empty PR statement and call it a day, but that isn’t a standard operating procedure for him. Lemieux failing to share a public word for Ovechkin isn’t about the Pens/Caps rivalry, it’s just how the Pens’ boss operates. Any hurt feelings along the way are just trying to be offended or create a slight that doesn’t exist.