Dallas Eakins has been making waves since taking over as head coach – he’s a man of definite opinions and hasn’t shied away from expressing them. On Friday, he took a shotgun to a particularly puerile complaint: players showing off.

The Tampa Bay Incident

Listen to the reaction of the commentators. Look at the reaction of the fans. Look at the reaction of his teammates. Linus Omark scored the game-winning goal in fantastic fashion, not only achieving the desired result but doing it in style. And the home side loved it.

Here’s what the Lightning had to say about it:

  • Ryan Malone: “A (expletive) joke.”
  • 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.”
  • 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. [Omark’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.”

Eakins’ Take

That shootout goal has been dogging Omark since it happened, for reasons that continue to baffle me, and Eakins was asked about it on Friday. The exchange went like this:

  • Reporter: “Back to Omark, in his first stint here he gained a reputation for being a bit of a showboat… do you have any concerns or problems about that element in his game?”
  • Eakins: “No. I don’t. I’m not sure what he did that would be a showboating thing…”
  • Reporter: (Only partially audible, referenced the Tampa Bay incident)
  • Eakins: “Did he score on it?”
  • Reporter: “Yeah.”
  • Eakins: “Well, he backed it up then. If he didn’t score there’d probably be a far bigger problem.”

Flash vs. Substance

An abundance of flash is no substitute for a lack of substance. However, in cases where a player has both a little showmanship shouldn’t be enough to condemn him, either. As the NHL is in the entertainment business, one might even reason that a little showmanship is a good thing.

Eakins was asked how he felt about a young player showing up a veteran defenceman on a play during camp. He replied, “How about the defenceman stop the play? Then you won’t be shown up.”

Fans and media talk all the time about the concept of entitlement, the idea that a player feels he deserves some special treatment by virtue of something other than merit. It’s generally seen to be a bad thing, yet somehow questions like the one above continue to be asked. If a defenceman doesn’t want to be embarrassed on the ice, that’s up to him, not the forwards competing for ice-time. For a player like Omark – or Mark Arcobello, or Jesse Joensuu or Ryan Hamilton or anyone else trying to make the team – the important thing is getting results, and if they can get those results by showing up their competition, power to them. As for those veteran defencemen, once the games start they won’t be able to ask the coach to please keep the other team from making them look like pylons.

Whether the sum total of Omark’s game is enough to get him on the team is very much an open question – Eakins gave a great answer there stressing that Omark needed to play his game to the best of his ability and see what happens – but as much as his flashy moves shouldn’t impact whether he makes the Oilers, neither should they keep him off the team. It’s all about results, and if a player can deliver them while swaggering there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

  • I’ve watched games on TV in Europe where the fans are allowed to really get into it. Cheering their @aases off, banging glass, drinking up a storm (Wanye stylez), banners everywhere, and on and on.

    It’s long been my opinion that people go to hockey to be entertained as much or more than watch great athletes perform. I think Oilers management has forgotten that. It’s the reason the Octane cheer squad is dressed like church girls (despite the fact half of them are rockets) and Northlands has fun Nazis peppered throughout the rink making sure everybody is sitting on their hands, not drinking too much or having too much fun.

    Maybe those Euros are onto something.

  • FYI, that Nail goal is going to live in my memories for forever. I’ll defend that celly til my death because the atmosphere in Rexall that night was near playoff-like and that tying goal was a monumental achievement worth celebrating. It was an f— you refs, you can’t take this one away from us.

    Incidentally, I was at the game and I regularly sit in a similar spot as the guy at 0:15. This dude is my doppleganger, it’s scary. I had people texting me saying they saw me on TV freaking out. Then I watched this video later.. I had to watch it a couple times before realizing that it in fact is someone else (the color of hat gave it away, and I don’t bang on the glass thanks to the usher-nazi saying it ist verboten). lol Eery.

    • Word to the Bird

      I split season tickets with another guy and I had the pleasure of being at that game (also the 8 point Gagner game) and I’ll tell you what: with the refs butchering every call and the Oilers refusing to give up, I literally cried when Yakupov scored that goal. Seriously, I legitimately cried.

  • wiseguy

    What is interesting is Omark will have to clear waivers to be sent down (I believe) so either he makes the team or he is lost for all time and I can easily see him lighting us up. I still would cheer for him though in different colour silks.

    • Reg Dunlop

      There is a 3rd possibility. Omark gets sent down, clears waivers and continues developing in the AHL. Assuming he gets plucked off waivers is an example of over-valuing our prospects.

      I like Linus and I am cheering him on, he will be an upgrade in the bottom 6 with the skill to fill in a top 6 role on an interim basis.

        • This got props?

          You’re losin that bet… he clears for sure. No other teams are interested in him because he hasn’t shown that he can do much other than score goals in the nhl. These days organizations are looking for more complete players.

          I’d like to see Omark make the team, but he’ll have to improve his overall game to stick. Might have to be put in the AHL for a bit, but I doubt he’s getting claimed

          • He ripped it up in the Swedish League last year. My guess is he was using that time to work on his game deficiencies knowing full well his next chance in an NHL jersey might be his last.

            How about we wait and see how his game has progressed before proclaiming “his game needs work”.

        • wiseguy

          Omark was available to anybody over the last year for very little return and was passed over. Unless he lights it up (in which case he would stay with the big club anyway) he won’t be claimed. MacT also put in a poison pill by signing him to a larger contract ($875,000) which becomes less palatable to most teams close to the cap.

          • Two way deals, are not poison pills.Omark would get claimed just to create a buzz in any hockey market. Fans would be “curious and furious” Just like the Oilers fan base. Imagine if he was claimed by Calgary, or Van.

          • wiseguy

            If you claim him he has to play on your NHL club and you have to pay him $875,000. You cannot send him to the minors, so yes you have to be pretty sure you want him and not just to create a buzz.

          • striatic

            Please provide a link. If the the rule has changed in this CBA I may have missed it. The only waiver change I was aware of was no more re-entry waivers.

            Taylor Chorney was claimed by St Louis
            and placed on waivers. And then reclaimed by the Oilers .

            So please provide a link to the change.

          • He actually doesn’t have to post a link to the change, because this isn’t a change.. it’s an old, existing rule.

            Old rules state if you claim a player on waivers, that player has to pass through waivers in order to get demoted to the new team’s farm club. So, as he stated, the new club has to keep the team on their NHL club, for all intents. In addition to that, if the new club waives Omark, and the Oilers put in a claim on him and no one else does, they can demote him to the AHL waiver free as long as they do it within 30 days. (13.20 of the CBA.. there are more limitations on this, not worth mentioning)

            Omark’s salary is actually $600k though, so the claiming team needs to pay them $600k, not $875k, but I assume that wiseguy just was going by memory.

          • Right. This is what I was stating. If he is put on waivers and claimed. The only risk is an AHL salary. If Omark is claimed, and a team plays him. The 600000 is prorated, only for the games he plays. There is not really any risk in claiming a player that is on a two way deal for one year.

  • wiseguy

    I completely agree with Willis’ take on the “concept of entitlement”. I don’t care about etiquette, unwritten codes, respecting veterans, etc. Punching an opponent in the face isn’t exactly polite either yet it’s part of the game. The good teams don’t care who they piss off. We keep saying we need an agitator, who by definition is someone who pisses off the other team.
    I also hope that as “the idea that a player feels he deserves some special treatment by virtue of something other than merit. It’s generally seen to be a bad thing”, it applies to management as well so that we can question why we hire guys with no experience in their jobs and refuse to let them go solely by virtue of their past connections with the team.

  • I haven’t been very pro-Omark over the years, but I think he is going to be one player that will surprise us all this year. I am not sure if he’ll make the team right out of the gate, but I wouldn’t be surprised (if for no other reason than the Oilers lose some LW depth with Hall moving to C).

    Clean slate for everyone, including Eager… will be interesting to see what these guys do under another coach. Wait.. I’ve said these words before. OK, interesting to see what these guys do under a demanding, NHL coach.

  • vetinari

    I like Eakins’ attitude– as long as a player backs up the flash, preferably with results, no problem. Over the last few years, the best Oiler moments that I’ve experienced were:

    Yakupov and his amazing and timely celebration

    Yakupov kissing the crest

    Omark making you wonder “what the heck is he doing” and then scoring

    Gagner shooting out the lights for an 8 point game and cheering him on to get 9

    Please don’t take those out of the game… if you don’t want to see these guys celebrate the way they do, I dare you to stop them.