Linus Omark’s at an interesting place in his career, and Oilers’ fans seem to have widely varying opinions of him. Some feel he could potentially be an offensive difference maker a the NHL level (I’m in that group), while others see him as a flashy but deeply flawed player crowded out by other options in the system.
I won’t present the whole interview here (click the link above for that – there are a lot of highlights in the candid discussion with Omark), but I will give one snippet, an expansion of the line in the title:
"I was not at all pleased with being sent to the AHL. I felt I had a great camp and played exactly how I should. It was tough to re-group when I had been cut. I was just angry on the ice, with both referees and opponents. But in hindsight I am really glad they sent me down. I learnt a lot from it. It was going better and better in the AHL and then I got the chance in the NHL."
For everyone who was apoplectic when Omark publicly expressed disappointment earlier this year, those words should be salve to the wound.
Speaking of hindsight, it should be easy to understand where Omark was coming from. The disappointment of not making the Oilers out of camp after lighting up the Kontinental Hockey League (a tougher league in many ways than the AHL) must have been intense. This is particularly true given that Omark is a high-level athlete, with the sort of competitive spirit that implies.
The comment quoted above demonstrates maturity and understanding on Omark’s part, and also should give us more confidence in the importance of an AHL apprenticeship for players entering the NHL – either from junior or Europe. It’s not a bad thing to let a player get his feet wet as a difference-maker in an extremely competitive league just one step down from the majors. It helped Omark, as he realizes now, and its helped a lot of other players along the way. It’s also a good example of why training camp isn’t – and shouldn’t be – a pure meritocracy, where (strictly speaking) the best players always get the NHL jobs.