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

Jonathan Willis
July 21 2011 08:30AM

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.

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Jonathan Willis is Managing Editor of the Nation Network. He also currently writes for the Edmonton Journal's Cult of Hockey, Grantland, and Hockey Prospectus. His work has appeared at theScore, ESPN and Puck Daddy. He was previously founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue. Contact him at jonathan (dot) willis (at) live (dot) ca.
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#51 rickithebear
July 21 2011, 04:04PM
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@Archaeologuy

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.

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#52 Archaeologuy
July 21 2011, 04:11PM
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@rickithebear

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.

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#53 cordlessphone
July 21 2011, 04:15PM
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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.

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#54 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
July 21 2011, 04:20PM
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@ Arch. That's why I'm so suspect on Omark, if he doesn't put up big numbers this coming year I'm thinking he never will.

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#55 justDOit
July 21 2011, 09:55PM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

@ Arch. That's why I'm so suspect on Omark, if he doesn't put up big numbers this coming year I'm thinking he never will.

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.

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#56 DonDon
July 21 2011, 10:02PM
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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.

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#57 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
July 22 2011, 08:10AM
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justDOit wrote:

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.

50+ points is what I would look for out of Omark this coming year if he is going to have an NHL career.

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