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.

  • Souby

    Omark’s only apparent weakness is his commitment to the defensive zone/faceoff dot.

    He may not fit our idea of a classic Canadian player and he is not a WHL/OHL proto-typical skater. This guy has world class talent though and I wouldn’t be so quick to judge him. Other recently departed players and current roster players have had up to 4 yrs. of opportunity and Omark at least deserves a chance to play with better players for a couple of seasons to see what he can really do.

    It may be best to just hang on to Gagner, Hemsky and Omark and wait to see what develops this season. RNH may end up back in junior so a knee-jerk trade may not be the best move. Those 3 players are a fairly significant percentage of the talent base and should be kept.

  • Ender

    Today I learned that meritocracy is a real word and not just something made-up to support one of Wanye’s rambling assertions. 😉

    I’m glad it’s a real word, because it means the Oilers have a chance to look it up. Sorry to disagree, Willis, but I honestly believe that the best players should play. Got someone who makes $4M per season and he shows up to camp out of shape? Tough titty; you should sit his ass or put him on a bus and let the kid that outplayed him have a swing until the veteran pulls it together. That’s why we have a farm-team and a call-up system. Planes move people pretty effectively today and there’s no reason to have an inferior player on the ice unless it’s because of unforeseen injury or illlness at the last minute.

    I’ll concede that there are select exceptions like RNH who get only a handful of games in the show before their future for the rest of the year needs to be decided for good. In those cases, he’d need to be not just better but clearly better to be sure you’re spending a year of eligibility correctly. Outside of those situations, the better player should play. Assess week-to-week if you must, but everyone should feel like they’re playing for their job every single night. Playing in the NHL should be a priviledge, not a right. The more the players feel like Liam Reddox who was always a plane-ride away from obscurity, the more fire we’d see on the ice. Meritocracy indeed.

  • O.C.

    I’m very much so on the Omark wagon and I say he pots 55-60 pts this season. He got his feet wet last year and I think he’s gonna be a beast this year. 20 goals 40 assists book it! I think Renney’s the perfect coach for a kid like him, shows alot of patients.

    • O.C.

      Good story.

      It appears the rift wasn’t at the expense of the focus in the Bruins’ case. Rule one is that if everyone learns that not everyone loves you and there is nothing you can do about it, then you can focus on the important items.

      Also…

      We could also argue that maybe if they traded Esposito for Ratelle or Perreault, the Bruins would have been even better.

      (winging this… Not certain the French Connection line was a threat or around in Boston’s glory years of early 70s)

      Point being… The fresh crop doesn’t need bad apples. They get sent to Hershey. That’s kinda poetic too.

      Edit… %?!’@$ iPad translator… “Impotent”? Really?

  • 1983 and This Year

    Oilers fans are fans of creativity. Guys like Omark and Eberle (and I’m sure RNH) will bring that in spades in the next few years.

    They’re all guys that can put that special play together on every shift. His defensive game will improve. From a pure excitement perspective, Omark needs to remain on this team.

  • O.C.

    I really hope Linus took some lessons in English and what phrasing doesn’t translate well.

    His interviews over the year made him sound like a selfish player, even though we all cut him a bit of slack, and we hope it’s more about he’s a competitive player, and his English sucks.

    It was good he was upset. How he presents that is the key. You can’t show disrespect to the coaches, or appear to do so, even if that wasn’t what you were trying to show or say.

    No one wants someone on their team to sound like they think that they are ” the next Dany Heatley all that, and a bag of chips”.

    If Linus plays and acts with respect and humility, he will win over people. Right now, I am on the fence, crossing my fingers that he isn’t a jerk, just a poor interview in English.

    If not, then I say dump him. As fast as you can.

    The talent is never more important than the chemistry.

  • I just Read Lisa McRitchie’s piece and it really sounds like Omark is not 100% sure how long his NHL career will be, but he wants to stay as long as he can. Good for him, I hope he rounds his game out.

    I think you’re right, there is a hint of maturity that I originally did not see when he was first sent to OKC.

    I am counted in the “dont buy it” category of Oiler fans, but I hope I’m wrong. He has great tenacity and creativity, I just want to see it amount to more. I am also suspect that he will prove to better than the 3RW on the Oilers. Not that he has to be better than that right now, but I think it’s a tenuous position for a player that’s more style than substance.

    • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

      Style Than Substance:

      You are usually correct about roster situations. But……..

      You go to bat for RNH who scored at a ppg rate 44% less than Gagner. Claim he is the next coming of……. with no production history to support that.

      Then you question a player who was top 10 in the SEL at an age only few could do.

      The last 5 before him: Zetterburg, Sedins, Naslund, Forsburg.

      Then he goes to KHL/RSL and scores goals at the same rate as Kulemin, Malkin, Frolov, Semin, Kovalchuk.

      So you question a player who produced at the same rate as zetterburg and Sedins and scored like Kovalchuk and Semin.

      Style than substance. Did you look at any of his KHL video.

      The puck pocession you saw in the Corners in the NHL is in video from the other leagues to.

      PS: wonder how he compared to Zetterburg playing with Datsyuk at age 23. or the sedins @ age 23. do you think he was playing with that calibre of player last year. the numbers are interesting.

      the last ten games of the season he played with the likes of MP and Hartikainen and was .875PPG.

      • 10 whole games? Wow. I guess it’s time to trade away that RNH loser because at the end of last season Linus Omark had 10 good games.

        You’re acting like I personally drafted RNH despite the gallery of people screaming for Larsson or Huberdeau. He was the consensus #1 pick. Every major scouting service had him ranked #1. Get over it.

    • Souby

      I am with you Arch. For me the jury is still out on Omark. He has shown flashes of what he can do offensively, but it would be nice if he could be more consistent. I know that the Oil are deep at RW, and although I hear people calling for Hemsky to be traded (not me), I don’t see Omark as a viable replacement for him on one of the top two lines.

      Now if he comes into camp and shows more finish, maturity and willingness to improve (which I think he will), then it may force the Oil to make a decision on who is in the future plans and who might be expendable. Just a thought.

    • Kodiak

      Did you get a chance to read this article too, Arch?

      http://www.coppernblue.com/2011/7/19/2280675/taylor-hall-jordan-eberle-tom-renney-and-qualcomp#storyjump

      I take all these numbers with a grain of salt, but there are some positives. As with a lot of stats, things should balance out. If Omark is generating like the numbers suggest, we should see better results, more substance over style. We should also see Jones come down to earth, score less and get lit up more.

      • I most definitely saw it. I will hold firm to my beliefs until he proves me wrong, much like you with Gagner. Though, I acknowledge that the player brings certain desireable qualities to the table.

        He could be a 2nd/3rd line winger that can create mismatches, but I still question his ability to rise higher than Eberle or Gagner. So I figure that he will likely become the most tradable asset on the team in terms of the Oilers’ willingness to move him compared to the possible return.

        Is that a reasonable prediction?

        • Kodiak

          I think that’s fair prediction. I think he could have enough game to be a solid 2nd line winger but sometimes guys like that just don’t deliver, so we will see. He reminds me of Samsonov a bit and I could see him having that type of career if he puts it all together. The proof is in the pudding. I really hope he is able to change your opinion and Gagner change mine. If that happens we would have a pretty decent looking top 6 I think.

        • I agree with most of the post except that he’s the most tradable asset compared to the possible return.

          If there is one player on the team that is moveable with the highest net return that player would be Hemskey followed by Gagner.

          I am a supporter of Gagner but the most likely to be traded out of the three would have to be Gagner. IMO

          • Out of Hemsky, Gagner, and Omark you think Gagner is the one the team is most willing to trade?

            Here’s my reasoning behind why it’s Omark, for anyone who cares to know.

            Hemsky is by far the most productive Oiler, and, while it’s a contract year and he’s due for a bit of a raise, he’s still the best offensive weapon on the team (at least until Hall reaches potential). Mixed with an injury history that could lower a trade return, I figure the Oil would prefer to keep him locked up for a while.

            Gagner is 21 years old and still on a very cheap contract for the offense he provides. The club just spent 4 seasons developing him at the NHL level and his pedigree is highest out of all of the names we’re talking about. He is also the defacto #1 offensive option at C on the Oilers until RNH proves otherwise. He can net the Oil somebody in return, but if the best the hopeful fans can “reasonably” muster up is Bogosian then we are likely downgrading with the trade. The depth chart at C is looking better these days, but the top 3 Cs under 25 in the system are RNH, Gagner, and Lander; only 1 has ever played a game in the NHL.

            Omark is 24 years old, comes with lots of hype, is creative and tenacious, but has question marks about the maturity of his game. He is entering the prime years of his career and scored goals at a pace of about 1 per 10 games played. He did pretty well on the PP but on a healthy team he might see his PP time decrease given his place on the depth chart, however he clearly showed an aptitude for it. Out of the three players he represents the lowest pedigree and active development from the Oilers organization. Ie, they have invested in him the least. He also has the least amount of offense, is the smallest (if that matters to you), and given his age probably is less prospect and more finished product.

            That’s why I see him as the most tradable guy. He has some hype, some flash, but also he delivers given certain situations, additionally he’s low on the depth chart at RW and unlikely to move up. So he might be more valuable on a different club than he is here.

            Just the way I see it.

          • D-Man

            You’re right – Omark would be the player out of the three that Tambo would want to trade, but the underlying issue is what would you get for him? He’s only shown glimpses of what he’s capable of and hasn’t played a full season in the NHL. Considering Cogs gave us a 2nd round pick – I’d assume the same (or less) for Omark.. Would a 2nd or 3rd round pick fulfill the need for some of the holes we still have on the back end?? Unlikely… Omark would need to be included in some sort of package…

            That’s why Gagner and Hemsky would be a more likely target for a trade.. Both have more of what a trading partner would want. Personally, I wouldn’t trade any of the three, unless Hemsky has made it clear that he doesn’t want to stay…

          • Exactly my thought as well, I just failed to explain that those players garner more value for an opposing GM.

            @ Arch

            also my argument can also be made that while Hemsky is injury pron maybe it would be beneficial for the Oilers to deal him while at a position of strength as oppose to trying to deal him at the dead line. Trading Gagner although I would hate to see it, you mentioned that the Oilers are now becoming deeper at center, my worry is that if RNH is as good as people say this year and Lander can step in then it makes sense to deal Gagner. Provided both Lander can play and Belanger can move up.

  • EasyOil

    Really hoping they don’t trade the kid. Love his moxy, love his game. Hemsky he is not, I’ve heard comparisons, but why have one slick euro when you can have two?!