From Bobby Orr to Tiger Williams: The best NHL goal celebrations of all time

Exactly 50 years ago today, Bobby Orr lept through the air after scoring the goal that gave the Boston Bruins their first Stanley Cup since 1941. It was a celebration that inspired a franchise and led to one of the most iconic sports photographs of all time.

Orr’s magical moment shows the lasting impact that a celebration can have on the minds of fans. While not every celebration can come after a goal as important as Orr’s, it’s still fun to watch players express their joy and show some of their personality on the ice. 

Here’s a list of the funniest, most creative, and all-around best NHL celebrations of all time:

No. 10: P.K. Subban’s smooth slide

This one makes the list because it’s simple yet effective. After scoring an overtime game-winner against Calgary, Subban gracefully slides on his knees, dragging his fingers over the ice before pretending to “shoot the lights out”. It was a memorable celebration that embodies the swagger of a player like Subban. 

No. 9: Jaromir Jagr’s salute

Jaromir Jagr is one of the most iconic NHL players in recent memory and he had an iconic celebration to boot. After scoring a goal, Jagr often removed his right glove and gave a military salute. He used the celebration for years but eventually stopped for reasons unknown. However, former New York Rangers forward Mike Rupp did break it out in a game against Jagr’s Flyers in 2012. 

No. 8: Tie Domi rides his stick

Tie Domi was known mostly for his role as an enforcer in the NHL, but when he did score he made it memorable. The prime example came in a game against the Buffalo Sabres during his time with the Rangers. After putting home a rebound, he rode his stick like a broomstick through center ice. But he wasn’t the creator of the move… 

No. 7: Tiger Williams also rides his stick

…That would be David “Tiger” Williams, who is best known for holding the all-time NHL record for penalty minutes. When he wasn’t in the sin bin, Williams actually had a pretty darn good shot on him that led to 241 career goals. Undoubtedly the most memorable one came against the Maple Leafs, when he celebrated by straddling his stick and pretending to gallop down the ice. 

No. 6: Milan Hejduk goes swimming

Milan “The Duke” Hejduk certainly scored plenty of goals in his day. He even won the 2003 Rocket Richard Trophy for the most goals in the league. However, he wasn’t known for his wacky celebrations. That is, until a game against the Dallas Stars. After scoring the overtime winner, Hejduk gave a little shimmy to loosen up before dolphin diving onto the ice and practicing his freestyle stroke.

No. 5: Sean Avery does push-ups

Avery wasn’t always the most popular player during his 12 years in the NHL thanks to his agitating style of play, but he may have gained some fans after this goal celebration. In a game against the Nashville Predators, Avery banked in a goal off the back of Preds goalie Tomas Vokoun. He immediately dropped to the ice and performed three push-ups while his teammates gathered around him. His form was solid, it must be said.

No. 4: Alex Ovechkin warms up by the fire

There’s no question that Alex Ovechkin is one of the greatest NHL scorers of all time, and his celebrations usually reflect his intensity and passion for the game. But the one knock on his cellys might be a lack of creativity. That wasn’t the case in one game back in 2013. After scoring his 50th goal of the season against the Lightning, Ovi dropped his stick on the ice and pretended to warm his hands up. It’s true that he was on fire that season.

No. 3: Theo Fleury goes bonkers

The Flames and the Oilers met in the “Battle for Alberta” in the first round of the 1991 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and things were as intense as you would expect. With Calgary trailing 3-2 in the series, Theo Fleury intercepted a pass in the neutral zone to set up a breakaway chance. He tucked it home, rounded the net, and proceeded to lose his mind; sliding on his knees across the entire rink and eventually tumbling into the boards on the other side. It was typical of Fleury, who was known for wearing his heart on his sleeve while on the ice.

No. 2: Teemu Selanne goes glove hunting

Biathlon is a popular sport in Finland, but we honestly didn’t realize Teemu Selanne was a fan. That is until he broke out this celebration during his rookie season. Selanne absolutely lit it up in his first year in the league, scoring a record 76 goals. When he broke the previous record of 53 in a game against the Quebec Nordiques, he threw his glove into the air and pretended to shoot it with his stick. Huge points for creativity on this one.

No. 1: Bobby Orr’s famous leap

Is there any other choice? Orr’s Stanley Cup-winning moment in 1970 is etched into the minds of Boston sports fans everywhere. It helped turn a struggling franchise into one of the best in the league and it also gave us one of the best photographs in sports history. His graceful leap through the air will live on forever in the minds of all who saw it. Simply put, it’s the most famous goal — and celebration — in hockey history. 

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