There are many “signs that you made it” in the Internet age, but getting the “GIF” treatment might have the widest range of effects. After all, people are likely to freeze a moment in time for two very disparate reasons:
1. They want to solidify a difficult or embarrassing moment (see: Alex Ovechkin’s brutal hit on Jaromir Jagr during the 2010 Olympics).
2. People want to honor (dear I say, deify?) a historic or outstanding accomplishment in one short clip.
Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson received the latter version of the “GIF” treatment by fans after he scored an exhilarating gold medal winning goal in overtime on January 6, 2010 to power the U.S. World Junior Championship team past Canada. (Seriously, go watch that goal … it’s outstanding.)
Being an international hero isn’t a half-bad claim to fame, but Carlson looks like he might be quite a bit more than that as a cornerstone member of a young, talented Capitals blueline. The 21-year-old Massachusetts-born defenseman has offensive skill (24 points in 59 games this season), impressive size (he’s listed at 6’3″) and is playing big minutes (more than 22 minutes per game this season) while showing nice responsibility. He was also strong in the Capitals’ playoff run in 2010, earning four points in that seven-game series while only trailing Mike Green, Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom in ice time.
He might not be “all the way there yet” defensively at his young age, but his +28 career mark and +17 plus/minus in 2010-11 indicate that he isn’t exactly in over his head at the NHL level either. Carlson and the team’s other defenseman of the future not named Mike Green (Karl Alzner) are facing opposing teams’ top scoring lines with increasing frequency, showing that the future might just be “now” for the young American.
In other words, he should amount to much more than a glorious moment immortalized in a transfixing “GIF” … not that there’s anything wrong with that, either.