Omark: “I Am Really Glad They Sent Me Down”

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.

Regardless, fans will be interested in an interview he gave to Norbottens’ Kurinen, translated by Yngve Elverhøi, and presented by Lisa McRitchie of the Copper and Blue.

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.

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    I’m firmly in Omark’s corner. The flashes of brilliance he showed last year, coupled with the chemistry he found with MPS, were among the highlights of the season.

    If Lander can spark something with Omark and Magnum PS, I think we’ll have a great Swedish line for years to come.

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    Why shouldn’t training camp be a meritocracy? That doesn’t make any sense. Why wouldn’t you want your team to be made of the best players?

    If you mean that you shouldn’t pick your team based on who had the best training camp, I completely agree. Hockey is a sport of statistics and normal distributions. Training camp is too short to tell how good a player is. Many will play better than their average, and many will play worse. You need to look at a larger body of work, which is one of the reasons why players like omark who hadn’t proven anything in north america needed to be sent down for a while. This, however, doesn’t make it any less of a meritocracy. Everyone’s still picked on merit, but we need longer to evaluate said merit.

    • justDOit

      He hasn’t even played an entire season in the league, and you expect him to be at – what 70 to 90 points this coming season?

      Omark WILL show us what he’s got this year, but it won’t be ‘big’ numbers. They’ll be bigger, and he’ll play better than last year.

      I for one, was apoplectic when he was sent down, but not at what he said about being sent down. And now he’s saying all the right things, and I suspect he’s going to show up at camp in the best shape possible.

  • justDOit

    There seems to be some question as to whether either Gagner or Omark deserves to be with the Oilers. I tend to be in the Omark camp; however, I haven’t had the opportunity of many in Oilers Nation to actually see either player in most actual games. I presume that management will ultimately sort out which player fits into the new Oilers lineup.