Omark’s antics … good or bad?

On a snowy December morning, today’s topic is hockey.

This being Edmonton, hockey could be the topic on a snowy Sunday morning, or a blistering August night. It’s just more appropriate right now.

The talk of the hockey world right now is Oiler Linus Omark, whose shoot-out goal Thursday night has, I assume, become a YouTube sensation. This isn’t as big a deal as it’s cracked up to be, since kittens playing with yarn can become a YouTube sensation. But plenty of people are talking about Omark, the Swedish rookie making his first appearance of the regular season. Omark is no regular rookie; he’s a human highlight reel, with ‘look at me’ goals in Sweden and with the Oilers minor league team, the Oklahoma City Bumwads, or whatever they’re called.

So Omark, somewhat surprisingly, get to take a shot in the shoot-out, and he throws in some razzle dazzle. Instead of skating straight towards the Tampa Bay goaltender (why does Tampa Bay, Fla. have a hockey team?), Omark goes wide, then does a spinerama (as Danny Gallivan used to call it), a full spin that would have made Elvis Stoyko proud. He then bears down on the Tampa net, fakes a shot, slaps his stick on the ice, then takes a shot that somehow gets through (truth to tell, it’s a pretty lousy shot). The crowd, hoping for something exciting from Omark, gets its wish, and goes wild.

So does hockey. Tampa players are royally pissed, angry at the showboating. So does a lot of the hockey world.

How dare, they say, a punk like Linus Omark sully the purity of the shoot-out gimmick by having some fun with it? Hockey is serious stuff; this isn’t the NBA, after all, where it’s so easy to score, the players have to do something creative to keep the fans from dozing off.

Hockey has been dominated by guys Wayne Gretzky and Sydney Crosby who, while absurdly talented, would never do anything showy like that to draw attention to themselves.

That’s not the hockey way. That’s not the CANADIAN way.

The hockey world is no doubt divided, but I saw good on Linus.

He’s a guy making his NHL debut, with a chance to win the game, who takes a chance on doing something risky and entertaining. He could, of course, have fallen while doing his spinerama, which would have been a YouTube sensation of a different sort, and marked him for life as an overconfident showboat who made an ass of himself. He took a chance — a big chance — and succeeded. (Coincidentally, Omark’s antics will make it that much tougher for the Oilers to send him back to the minors when Shawn Horcoff makes his sadly inevitable recovery. Don’t think that Omark wasn’t thinking that exact thing.)

So for all you haters our there, you ‘don’t disrespect the game’ types… lighten up. The guy took a chance, succeeded, entertained the fans and had some fun.

Of course, if he flopped, it would have meant a one way ticket to the Bumwads. But he didn’t, so way to go Omark.

Just don’t do it again.

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