CALGARY – The man who flipped his stick in celebration is now flipping mad at the notion he helped fuel the Oilers’ victory on Saturday.
Frustrated, angry and somewhat confused by the backlash following his Jose Bautista-style celebration to end a shootout win last Wednesday, David Rittich said Monday he makes no apologies, and would do it again.
His coach feels differently.
“Everyone who is here knows me, I’m an emotional guy,” said the Flames netminder.
“I didn’t do it to make someone mad. I mean, we are not able to celebrate in this league anymore, or what? I didn’t want to do something wrong – I just celebrate and that’s all.”
The Oilers clearly took offence to his animated celebration following his game-ending poke check on Leon Draisaitl, and let him know it Saturday as the Czech all-star skated by the opposition’s bench after being pulled.
The chirping caught him off guard, as there’s an element of naivety to the happy-go-lucky goalie that’s part of his charm.
Most hockey folk indeed figured his over-the-top celebration wouldn’t be well received.
He has a hard time understanding why.
“I mean, you can find a lot of things to motivate – it’s Battle of Alberta,” said Rittich, shrugging.
“I don’t know if it’s about a stick flip. Honestly, I don’t even want to talk about it. If someone’s mad on me for doing that – just be mad on me. I’m going to do it next time (also). Honestly I’m that guy who is showing my emotions, who is celebrating goals, who is celebrating wins, and it is what it is. Why should I change myself? My personality is why I’m in the NHL, so I’m not going to change anything.”
Leon Draisaitl revealed following Saturday’s 8-3 Oilers win that Rittich’s celebration was disrespectful, “like he won the Stanley Cup.”
Mike Smith, his former teammate, pointed out that sometimes, “what goes around comes around.”
Flames interim coach Geoff Ward said his team needs to be a little more careful in the celebration department moving forward.
“You’ve got to be mindful of it,” said Ward.
“I can go back to the Stanley Cup final in 2011 and all the things that fed our emotional level as a team that Vancouver did. It’s all things in the same vein:
Biting (Patrice) Bergeron’s finger; goaltender going after Tim Thomas verbally; making fun of an old jacket of Johnny Bucyk’s we had used as a player of the game thing – they made a comment about how petty it was, and that it was bantam hockey.
“In Boston we fed on emotion. I think when you win, say little. When you lose, say less. It’s one of those things where you don’t want to emotionally feed it. We learned an important lesson by doing it.”
That conversation will undoubtedly be shared with Rittich sometime soon.
Rittich’s mood was better earlier the conversation, when asked about the first ever Battle of Alberta goalie fight involving Cam Talbot and Smith.
“The first thing that went through my mind was, ‘that was my fight,’” said Rittich, who was pulled earlier in the second period after allowing four goals.
“When I saw Talbs going on him I kind of hoped and wanted him to win. But it was awesome what he did.”
Would he have fought his former teammate?
“I’m not really care – I will fight everyone,” he smiled.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s Smitty or someone else.”
Has he been in a fight before?
“No, but it’s kind of bucket list for me,” said Rittich.
“I want to be in that fight.”