I always enjoy taking some time to soak in the aftermath once something occurs around the NHL that causes a stir. Sitting back and watching the players, coaches and experts alike all peck away at each other like those Hens from that vomit inducing show ‘The View’ is a great way to pass the day and further establish my disdain for Whoopi Goldberg.
On tap this week are the whimsical antics of one Linus Omark, he of the needless yet eye catching pirouette-to-fake-slapshot goal for a much needed Edmonton victory to stay tight in their neck and neck battle of suck against the Calgary Flames downstairs next to the jelly jars.
I didn’t catch the shootout live, but by the time I was caught surfing the net at work the next morning, the buzz was already rampant and the debate was on regarding the fine line of antics versus entertainment. What surprised me the most about this debate is that there was even a debate to begin with.
You knew that Omark’s goal would be on the highlight reel and subsequent plays of the week and as such, would warrant some air time on your favorite sports recap station the next day. However, the fact we’re just shy of a week out and intermission reports are still filled with more Q&A from players across the league on the topic, I’m left wondering what the debate is truly about?
The last time I checked, the shootout was put in place in part as a means to add entertainment to the product on the ice. To go one further, the NHL went so far as to promote the creativity in this very act by introducing a “slam dunk” style format to its All-Star Skills Competition. Players are now voted on as winners not by how many goals they score, but by their pure showcasing of creative flare.
Or in Alexander Ovechkin’s case, his choice of ugly hats.
While the All-Star game is an entirely different animal from a league game where points are on the line, it doesn’t change the bottom line that from a business perspective, entertainment is key and Omark owns a can of worms that few dare to open or even consider. And he has people talking.
No touch icing or hybrid icing? It appears there’s a majority consensus that something of this nature needs to be entertained.
But this debate on hot-dogging versus respect in the league results in a bevy of answers and a near fifty-fifty split on its outcome. As such, this screams the obvious in that there’s plenty of room for all skills and mindsets in the shootout.
The funny thing is, had Omark caught an edge and done a yard sale at centre ice, this story would have grown legs for an entirely different reason and he would have played the part of ‘fool’.
But to gain that title, you don’t necessarily have to have a flare for the dramatic. Just ask Ilya Kovalchuk who, along with his goal scoring skills this season, forgot to bring the puck with him on a breakaway a few weeks ago.
Or ask Dustin Brown how he felt while skating straight in on a penalty shot, froze up like Bambi’s mom after hearing a shotgun caulk, and got dropped on his own doing without so much as directing a puck Tim Thomas’ way. The only shot taken on that effort were the ones the Bruins were giving him on his way back to the bench.
Making a spectacle in front of your peers doesn’t have to come by way of showboating. Even the best in the league can wear that hat without necessarily inviting it.
Omark could have fallen, or he could have missed. And at some point he’s going to do just that and probably while attempting another acrobatic move intended to turn heads. You live and die by the sword. But at least he’s entertaining.
The NHL is a big league that houses more than 700 players within its confines. That’s a lot of people and a lot of unique personalities. And for the millions of fans who each own opinions in their own right, there’s enough talent and variety to both appease and bemuse each and every one of us.
In the end there’s no right or wrong to what we each appreciate and take away from things.