LINUS OMARK: THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT

You can be young and be an old fart. There were plenty of them in the Tampa Bay Lightning dressing room after Linus Omark made the transition from YouTube sensation to NHL sensation with his spectacular shootout goal to give the Edmonton Oilers a 4-3 win Friday.

There was plenty of stink in there after Omark ignited Rexall Place and sent the faithful home happy in his NHL debut, deciding the shootout with a spin-o-rama at the blueline, then hesitating and snapping a shot between the legs of Dan Ellis.

"It was a f*cking joke," sniffed Ryan Malone. "F*cking disrespectful is what it was." Simon Gagne chimed in with: "Nice goal, good move by him. Nice move. But in the NHL, there is a line. You don’t want to cross it. I think that time? It was a little bit too much."

Then, Martin St. St. Louis, his uniform still splattered with the mustard from Omark’s showmanship: "A little Youngblood-ish," he said. "Is there a need for that? No."

A f*cking joke? Disrespectful? A bit too much? That was some awful old-school thinking by the Bolts. The NHL is in the entertainment business. For fans, the people who buy the tickets and pay the freight, Omark The Entertainer delivered their money’s worth in one fell swoop.

The kid’s got flair, and big brass balls.

THAT’S WHAT OMARK DOES

Omark’s antics had Jim Matheson of The Journal, Rob Tychkowski of the Sun, Mark Spector of Sportsnet and I talking about what we’d seen after our stories were filed, our laptops were packed away and everybody else had left the writing room Friday night.

Surprisingly, the old scribes, Matheson and I, were loving what we’d seen from Omark. A goal like that with the game on the line in his NHL debut? That’s crazy, Bub. Spector was somewhat torn by the ballsy move Omark had pulled off, hovering between the wow factor and the hot-doggishness of it. Tychkowski seemed sour, like the air in the Tampa Bay room.

I’m guessing discussions among fans has been very much the same. Any chance we’ll hear that discussion played out publicly on Hockey Night In Canada tonight? Bet on it. Do tell, Grapes. do tell…

Ales Hemsky didn’t want to emerge from the players lounge last night and speak to the media because he’s out with a strained groin and didn’t play, but I did coax one word out of him about Omark’s feat. "Impressive," is all he said.

Impressive, indeed.

THEIR MONEY’S WORTH

There was nothing "disrespectful" about Omark’s goal. His spin-o-rama came 80 feet from the goal. It certainly unsettled Ellis, but not as much as when Omark froze him from 25 feet out with a hesitation move, slapping his stick on the ice, before whipping the rubber past him

Omark didn’t skate past the Tampa Bay bench pumping his fist or wind-willing his arm like Downtown Robby Brown — who was upstairs at Rexall Place looking on — would’ve in his heyday with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He didn’t point at anybody. He didn’t mug for the crowd. He didn’t do a one-stick pony ride down the ice ala Tiger Williams.

Omark clinched the game for the Oilers in the shootout. He delivered the kind of excitement fans pay damn good money to see. Omark didn’t show anybody up. What, pray tell, is disrespectful about that? What, if you reject all the dusty, dated thinking too often spouted by old-timers, and some who aren’t so old, wasn’t to like about what we saw Friday?

Players work their entire lives to make it to the NHL. The very lucky few who actually beat the odds and get that far get one NHL debut. One. No more. Fifty years from now, when Omark is an old man talking about the good old days, he’ll be able to tell his grandchildren about his first NHL game. He won’t have to embellish it one bit. Nobody who saw it will have to, either.

The cock-sure Swede gave Oilers fans a moment that was worth the price of admission and sent them home happy. Regardless of what the naysayers would have you believe, that’s the bottom line in the enterainment business. At least it should be.

WHILE I’M AT IT

— Omark didn’t get to have all the fun, of course. Dustin Penner had himself a helluva game, again. The big man is into it right now. He’s engaged and involved. He went right to Pavel Kubina and tossed him around a bit after he flattened Omark. The Oilers are going to need more of that with Shawn Horcoff and Hemsky out.

— Magnus Paajarvi is getting revved up and closing the gap that’s existed with Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle. Hall was an absolute force again Friday, but Paajarvi is feeling it now and looking like the player many thought might be the sleeper of the trio.

— I was rolling my eyes when Nikolai Khabibulin got the start instead of Devan Dubnyk, but let’s not fault him for a coaching decision. Khabibulin damn sure won’t be around when this team gets really good, but he was magnificent Friday. His job is to stop pucks and to do it whenever he’s called upon, even if that’s happening a bit too much for my liking.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

  • Emvee

    What about this “code”?

    Is hockey supposed to be some kind of sick medival chivalry where it is perfectly fine to in anger hit someone in the face until your hands are too fractured, while it is considered a major breech of respect to score a beautiful goal in front of 17,000 jubilating hockey-lovers?

    As to Guy Boucher “we’ll remember this”, insinuatingly theatening to beat the ass out of a young rookie that has just played his first NHL game – that is just downright disgraceful. He’s a grown man for heavens sake!

  • Mikey "miraclehands" - Team FIST

    Yes our 5 on 5 game was terrible but when your powerplay is getting it done with a kid whose playing in his first game making plays happen in place of horcoff who was nightly missing one timer attempts and throwing the puck away in the middle,makes me not miss the guy one bit. Any chance Gregor there are teams out there now wanting khabbulin after his last 2 starts after comming back. I know you said there was no chance but 3.75 mil for a guy stealing games in the third period and shootouts are worth every penny of that contract.Horcoffs is a rich mans Ethan Moreau and we all know it. Go GSP!!!

    • Jason Gregor

      How about Tampa Bay?

      As for your reasoning, I’d bet a team that gets outshot 41-23 like the Oilers did is going to win two of every 10 games with a shots-ratio like that.

      The Oilers wouldn’t have had a sniff of a single point, let alone two, and Omark wouldn’t have had the opportunity to be a factor without Khabibulin.

  • Mikey "miraclehands" - Team FIST

    Speaking of crossing some invisible line of player protocal how uncool was it of Stamkos to roll up to about 10 feet from Khabby and unleash a slapper that could easily caused a significant injury. Where is the righteous indignation over that on the part of the Tampa Bay Dolts?

    This current surge of confident play by the Oilers is likely emanating from Dubby and Khabby’s goaltending heroics of late. How many times did the Oil have their hearts ripped out last year watching Deslauriers whiff on just about any shot 2 feet off the ice?

    That to me is the conundrum in this situation for the Oil ‘going forward’ as they say. They need a 24-25 yr old goalie who plays like Khabby of late. That may be a tall order for anyone to fill. Reinforcing the ‘D’ would be at the top of my to-do list for the GM.

  • Mikey "miraclehands" - Team FIST

    It cant be a surprise if the oilers are getting outshoot by 20 plus a night at this point.I don’t think outside of the leafs game we have outshoot a team this year. outside of Whitney and foster our 3-7 defenseman aren’t gonna be the greatest at getting the puck out of our own end and shots are gonna be comming in waves everynight. Hate to say the line but ” we are rebuilding” and playing in your own end is the hardest part of the game to learn,you would think??Not even Horcoff was helping that situation when he was in the lineup,we were still getting outshoot 2-1 most nights. But as long as that powerplay can click and produce,Hall continues to step up and bulinwall comes to play,good things will come.

    • Man, I’d seriously consider paying cold hard cash to sit in a bar tomorrow night with you, watching the Vancouver game. The sheer comedy watching you backpedal would be worth the price of admission.

      • Mikey "miraclehands" - Team FIST

        Holy Rick, if it means so much to ya I’ll be sitting row 4 behind khabbulin watching him shut the door for a 3rd straight game.And most likely omark win it in shootout for the second straight game.you need to have good goaltending and a good first line center….atleast we got 1.

        • Ha ha! OK cool. Can’t bash a guy goin’ to the game. I hope we win too, but I’m more curious to see how our current lineup matches against a decent squad. And from the looks of it, Vancouver is going to be chewing nails tomorrow night. Guess we’ll see!

          • Mikey "miraclehands" - Team FIST

            Yah man I hope we can continue to put up points cuz after last year I’m over going to watch us get beat 6-1 on home ice.it’ll be tough to get goals past luongo but it’ll be key to get the fist goal!!!

          • Mr. B

            I’m not understanding this post…is this insinuating Tampa’s not a decent squad? Are you referring to the same Tampa that is 2 points ahead of Vancouver in the overall standings plus beat them last night in Vancouver after playing the night before in Edmonton?

            Just curious….

  • Anyone see the idiotic column by Rob Tchy…kowski in the Sun. He suggested that Omark put the game at risk in order to draw attention to himself. That’s where all this “disrespectful” nonsense is coming from. These people are so stupid they don’t understand that the spin was an integral part of scoring the goal. If he doesn’t spin he doesn’t score.

    It just goes to show that a majority of people in the mainstream media and inside the game are too stupid to talk about hockey. These morons don’t stop for a second and think about how odd it is that only about 30% of shutout attempts end in goals. What Omark did wasn’t showboating and it wasn’t drawing attention to himself it was a bit intellectual brilliance.

    It’s pretty clear that Omark is smarter than 99% of the hockey world and that he isn’t afraid to do things his own way. The problem is that while he’s good, he’s not good enough to stand against the monolith that is NHL culture. I was pretty shocked to find out the Lightning were upset about this. Now I find out that the rest of the league think it was a bushleague move. It just goes to the show that the players are a bunch of pathetic sheep covering by a fawning media.

    The Lightning have a fun team but Boucher and Yzerman have exposed themselves as gutless pricks.

  • Mikey "miraclehands" - Team FIST

    Whoa whoa whoa!!! The move was pretty ridiculous and I see where people would beak it but only because they would never have the sac to pull it off and those who would wouldn’t have scored.I agree that the spin and fake slapshot was all head games that pay’d off.overall I’m with CO that it was a great move but I do love the suns sport section !!!

    • Mikey "miraclehands" - Team FIST

      I have full support of the godfather of the fist “softhands McSteeley”.speak only of the fist when the luxury of it has been offered to you.Now may we speak no more of this word in respect to brownlee and his hatred of the…..

  • Mr. B

    Hey Robin great article. I’m with you the Omark shootout move was great; I hope he does well and gets to stay. By the way,I listen to you every week on Gregor’s show. I really like your insight. Also,I am a KISS fan and muscle car fan as well.

  • book¡e

    The one thing I haven’t seen mentioned yet (and I haven’t had a chance to read ALL of the comments) is that Linus didn’t just ‘showboat’, he took a huge risk. If he loses the puck on the spinerama or misses the net, he looks like an ass.

    This is what makes this different from someone who celebrates after a goal is scored in a crazy fashion. This is a risk and that makes it perfectly respectful – because he could have been the talk of the town if he had missed it as well!

    • Travis Dakin

      @Archaeolguy

      This “He put the game at risk” BS is just that.

      Hall went in and played it safe and didn’t score. What if he cost the team the game? I think Hall put the game at risk by playing to the percentages… The goalies always have the edge.

      • I didnt say he put the game at risk. I liked what he did. I wish more players took “risks” like that.

        All I’m saying is that what he did took guts because he would have looked foolish had it not worked.

        Between Omark’s move and Gagner’s 5000 deke move, which has a better chance of scoring? My bet is Omark’s.

      • book¡e

        Travis – I think you misunderstood what I was saying (I may not have said it well). I have no problem with the move at all and it may have contributed to scoring the goal.

        What I am saying is that he deserves the ‘kudos’ for his move because he took the chance of looking like an ass. This is very different than someone who does a crazy celebration after a goal (such as pointing and laughing at the other team or something) because it was a high risk, high reward move (in terms of looking awesome or silly).

  • Death Metal Nightmare

    all i ask is this: if anyone takes a run at Omark over this bullcrap overblown, crybaby media nonsense – ANY Oiler better go completely Dave Brown insane on the opposing players face in a snap. if they dont, i will be completely disappointed. the league obviously has a stigma against the kid and his teammates better damn back the kid up who stuck his neck out to win them a thrilling game.

  • Mr. B

    I think Omark’s SO was terrific and I think those who think he was disrespetful of his SO performance, wrell I say, they are disrecspectful of the fans because this was entertainment and that’s what they are suppose to give us for the hard earned money we make to pay for tickets, etc. They the players, get millions to perform and that is exactly what Omark did plus we won and that’s what counts as well. Those sour puss’s should get with the times. This is 2010 and I’m tired of going home or turning off the T.V. because it was a lousy game with no entertainment value. Those who feel Omark was crossing the line should stick it!!! I hope Renny doesn’t tell Omark not to do it again. Next time he will have a new move and that will be entertaining too.

  • Travis Dakin

    I have no problem with Omark doing his fancy moves. All of the rhetoric aside, Tampa DESERVED it have Kubina gave him a blind sided hit when he didn’t have the puck. Thant’s why Penner fought Kubina in the first place: because THAT was dirty and unecessary, and you shouldn’t be doing dirty plays to a guy on his first ever game. A lesser man would’ve skated by the bench and pointed right at the douche Kubina after the highlight goal.
    Omark did the classy thing and made his point on the ice.

  • Rob...

    I’m getting sick and tired of a bunch of non-ON media and players calling a 23 year old, nearly 24, with a season of pro hockey in Sweden, followed by a season with Moscow Dynamo a ‘rookie’. Though technically he is a rookie I think their perception goes deeper than just ‘first year in the NHL’. They are equating Omark with Hall on an experience and age level. Given his pro experience and age I think their negative reactions go from unreasonable and smacking of cronyism to fully in-valid.

  • positivebrontefan

    If you watch a collection of his shootout goals he always has some sort of “distraction” early. What it does is get in the goalies head early, and then they do exactly what Renney said and think “what is he little bugger gonna do next?”

    How big of a risk is a slow spin like he did for an elite player anyways? (and when I say elite I mean NHL caliber)
    I went out to the local outdoor rink (rough ice and all) and practiced it a few times and completed it 9 out of 10 times, and I’m an average Joe schmuck who hasn’t played competitive hockey in a few years.

    Risky my a$$! If you are an NHL player and can’t complete a slow spin like that you have issues. Granted the forward speed was there but he hardly got turned around in a hurry.

    • Rob...

      And that’s just one version. Count all the different youtube videos of that one SO goal and it’s closer to 200k views over 1.5 days. ~A few more like this and we won’t need the Indy for advertising the city.~

  • book¡e

    Dark Cloud over Omark Debut reads the Cult of Hockey headline… David Staples
    scathing critic of 5 on 5 play by Omark and line mates…thinks sideshow goal spectacular…

    taps toe waiting on GDB

  • book¡e

    The media and players trash talking Omark are idiots. I remember hearing the same BS 25+ years ago about a young kid named Wayne Gretzky. Good thing he didnt hold anything back. I’m not comparing Linus to the Great One but I sure as hell hope he is given the green light to go out and do what he does. That was the most exciting and entertaining SO goal in Oil history. Add Linus to the excitement that all ready exists with Hall, Ebbs, and Magnus and we have the start to something special here.

  • offside

    I didn’t hear the world explode when Omark pulled the same move a week or so ago in the AHL, and he missed the net.
    Because of the spin 90 feet from the goal, people missed out on what an amazing goal it actually was, the move he did to score was one of the nicest I’ve seen.

  • Sorry Linus… the move was good but truly I enjoyed Eberle’s shootout goal more. As to the Tampa Bay Baby’s…. get over yourself. Steven Stamkos with a slapper??? Try some creativity… you might have scored… and Marty St. Louis… you think it was over the top? I saw your shootout goal… hmmmm a spin to hide the puck from Fleury? Who sounds like a big whiner now