Sunday, 12 December 2010

Making His Omark

There has been some definite vitriol spewed towards Swedish scoring sensation Linus Omark as he decided to put a little razzle-dazzle into the shootout between the Edmonton Oilers and Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday night. I get that some people don't like the shootout whatsoever, and they are entitled to their opinions about the breakaway contest. However, the comments being made about Omark's first-ever NHL shootout goal in his first career attempt are completely off-base for a league that needs stars to bring people into buildings.

Omark, as you may remember, was already a YouTube sensation for some of his highlight reel shootout goals, but his first NHL shootout goal was an absolute beauty. Take a look:

Spin-o-rama? Check. Fake slapshot? Check. Five-hole goal? Check. That, kids, is called "creativity", and it's something that the NHL really needs to embrace in the shootout. If goaltenders can flash the leather on a big glove save, why can't shooters have a little fun and make it harder on the goaltender to make a save?

The reactions have been quite interesting. From Paul Bissonette's Twitter feed (@BizNasty2point0):
"Just watched Linus O'marks shoutout goal..... Just bought a Linus O'mark jersey on but with spelt his last name GOD on the back."
That's pretty funny from one of the NHL's funniest guys. But the problem is that a lot of the NHL isn't as appreciative as Mr. Bissonnette is of Omark's creativity. And it shocks me that this is so.

Doug Wilson, San Jose Sharks' GM, to Eric Francis of Slam! Sports: "Disrespectful — I’m sure the Tampa players were impressed and will remember."

Damian Cristodero of the St. Petersburg Times got a number of comments from Lightning players, and none sounded too happy.

From winger Ryan Malone: "A ... joke."

From goaltender Dan Ellis: "It's embarrassing for him. You come into a league, a respectful league like this, and you try a little move like that. It's not a very classy thing. That's just the kind of person he is."

From defenceman Mattias Ohlund: "If anyone did that on our team, the guys would tell him not to do it anymore."

Edmonton Sun writer Gerry Moddejonge got this quotation from winger Steven Stamkos: "I didn't think it showed a lot of respect in this game. I mean, you don't see Crosby or Ovechkin doing that and they're the two best players in the game. He's a creative player, he's got good skill. I'm not taking that away from him, but it didn't really have any implication on his moves, so I don't know why he did that."

I'm not sure why Omark's goal was a "joke" or why he shouldn't have a little fun in the shootout, but Dan Ellis' comments are downright comical considering his completely brainless comments on Twitter. Regardless of the sour grapes shown by the Lightning, they need to remember something important considering where they play the game: the man just brought the Edmonton Oilers and Tampa Bay Lightning to the forefront on ESPN's SportsCenter with his creativity. How many times since 2004 have the Lightning done that?

Here are three things for the Lightning to keep in mind:
  1. If you don't want to see players doing spin-o-ramas in the shootout, don't let the game get there. Win the game, and this never happens.
  2. If you want to spew sour grapes after the game, that's fine. But be angry at yourselves for losing to the 25th-overall team in the NHL, and not some kid who just made 16,839 fans stand on their feet and cheer wildly. Otherwise, anyone who shows some creativity on the shootout should be chastised as well.
  3. "I don't know if direspectful is the right word. He's a young kid. Whatever he did, it worked. Do we need that? I don't know. It's kind of a slap in the face a little bit. Maybe it's a little too much. I don't know." - Martin St. Louis on Friday night. Really? Do you really want to go down that road?
I get that the Lightning were probably pretty annoyed with their loss. They outplayed the Oilers, and the pucks just didn't find the back of the net for the Bolts. It happens. But then you get Martin St. Louis, the voice of reason on shootout etiquette, who has gone down in history with this little move:
Said St. Louis in regards to his backhanded shootout goal: "I wanted to try something different, maybe something he hasn't seen before. I think I caught him off guard a bit, maybe changed things up a little bit."

I ask you, is that not what Omark did? Are we reverting to hypocrisy, Mr. St. Louis? Are you really telling me that stifling creativity is good for the game?

I encourage Linus Omark to continue to showcase his talents in the shootout. Had other players decided to just skate straight in and shoot, we wouldn't have some rather fantastic shootout goals from players such as Peter Forsberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Mike Ribeiro (twice), Marek Malik, or Jason Blake. Did Pierre Maguire say Blake went to the "St. Louis School of Shootouts"? How is that possible? Could it be because St. Louis has used the backhanded shootout goal on more than one occasion? The answer is yes, and that makes St. Louis a hypocrite.

I'm not here to pile on Martin St. Louis, though. Paul Bissonnette did that via Twitter. Here are several tweets published by the NHL pugilist:
"Fitzy17 @BizNasty2point0 would you be complaining about it as much as the Lightning players are right now?" - 11:14 PM Dec 10th

"@Fitzy17 would I have gotten mad at O'mark? No i would have gotten off our bench and joined in the celebration." - 11:16 PM Dec 10th

"dfreeman96 @BizNasty2point0 y is it that a talented established vet like st.louis made so many excuses n basically called the kid out for showboating?" - 11:36 PM Dec 10th

"@dfreeman96 all i know is Omark's move is good for the game. which means more fans in seats. which means.... Omark=Less Escrow. #ThanksLinus" - 11:40 PM Dec 10th
Sounds like minimum-salary enforcer Paul Bissonnette knows the business of hockey better than the guys getting paid millions upon millions of dollars to play it. And I'll credit Bissonnette this: I couldn't have tweeted it better myself.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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