Artem Anisimov’s Gun Celebration

All is abuzz this morning with the latest faux pas from the New York Rangers. The Tampa Bay Lightning were in town, guests at Madison Square Garden. The Rangers had control of the game until the goal that would be heard around the news this morning.

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After scoring a short-handed goal at 13:23 of the second period, forward Artem Anisimov celebrated with a taunt drawing criticism and enraged Tampa’s Steve Downie.  Anisimov, who is an avid player of “Call of Duty”, used the bench of the Tampa Bay Lighting as the enemy force. Anisimov used his stick as a rifle aiming at his opponents. Tampa’s captain Vinny Lecavalier charged over to Anisimov, who was backed by fellow Rangers on the ice. Steve Downie left the bench creating an onslaught of brawls that would plague the Rangers with their second loss after a 5-game winning streak. Penalty minutes for misconduct and roughing totaled 42 in the second period.

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This was Anisimov’s fifth goal of the season as a rookie.
His level of play illustrates his value for the Rangers, but not this latest ego trip. Anisimov is a quiet guy in the locker room but will occasionally break out with a funny comment or two, so his humorous gesture was meant with no malice. Anisimov later apologized for the inappropriate celebration to his teammates and the media who jumped all over the violent reference.

Artem Anisimov Rangers
Artem Anisimov (Tony Medina/Icon SMI)

Guns, guns, everywhere.  Recently, security screeners pulled a teenager out of her line because she had a leather purse with an image of a pistol engraved on it.  Water pistols are banned at schools. What’s next for the gun bans?  Can’t ban the word shoot. That would blow the hockey writers out of the water.  Guarantee, the hockey fans won’t see this stunt again at the expense of Anisimov and the New York Rangers. The stunt by the rookie was fair game, especially when the NHL touts families and kids learning good sportsmanship. The tricky maneuver in all of this is how to accept pop culture phenomena with humor and not go overboard.

I’ve worked with animation and special effects companies and their artists who share a concern with kid’s interpretation of combat-oriented games. About half of those gaming professionals agree that people who play violent video games are aware such games as “Call of Duty” is not real. The other half feels these games may lead to violence in reality.  Most cautioned the personality and stability of the person playing the game makes the most impact on outcomes.  They all agree there is no clear answer and no definitive studies to halt the production of these games.

Athletes and other public figures cannot always be aware of mistakes, but sensitivity to impressionable minds can be avoided.  In 2009, Teemu Selanne celebrated with a machine-gun simulated gesture but it was not directed at the bench of the visiting team.  For many of the rookies, etiquette must be addressed by the coaches if the player hasn’t played on a big stage, like Madison Square Garden and the NHL. Class and good sportsmanship always need review and certainly never goes out of style.