I think that years from now, Linus Omark will be regarded as an urban legend of sorts in the hockey world. Nobody will ever be able to believe that a man who played less than 100 career games in the NHL could bless the hockey world with so many filthy highlight reel goals. 8 career goals and 32 career points in 79 games spanning over the course of 3 seasons in the NHL. If you just judged Linus Omark off of his hockeyDB page, you wouldn’t think he played such a significant role in the history of the game. But you take one look at his highlights–like this one that came 8 years ago today–and you realize that the man is a wizard on skates. And despite the fact that he really didn’t accomplish much in his NHL career, the league was still a better place with him in it.
The talent level in the NHL these days is as high as it’s ever been. I know we’ll never see a player as dominant as Gretzky again but the game was just so much different then. There’s at least one guy on pretty much every team who could stickhandle circles around Gretzky. And the reason for that is because kids these days can spend a couple of hours watching a few puck handling videos on YouTube of guys like Linus Omark, learn a few new moves and now there’s an entire generation of filthy, filthy danglers ready to set the game ablaze. You think a kid is going to sit down and study some boring ass game film or do you think they’d rather watch a 3 minute video on YouTube of some nasty ass highlights? There’s a reason why so many players can come into the league right now as teenagers and absolutely dominate, and that’s because the elite talent is being learned earlier and earlier thanks to the internet and guys like Linus Omark who set the internet on fire via highlights.
He’s not going to worry himself too much with getting greasy in the corners. He’s not going to waste his energy doing things like back checking. He’s not a man who can be caged into playing a “system”. And maybe that’s the reason why he only got 79 games in the NHL. But trying to get a guy like Linus Omark to play a system is like forcing an artist to work as an accountant. He’s too creative for that. And that level of creativity? Well it puts asses in the seats.
Which is why I’ve said a bunch of times by now that the NHL needs to create a new position for guys like Linus Omark. Similar to how the American League has the designated hitter in baseball, the NHL needs to create a designated shootout specialist position. Imagine if you could have a guy like Linus Omark on your roster. He doesn’t play at all during the game but if your team ever gets awarded a penalty shot, you have the option of putting him in there to take it. Or if the game goes to a shootout, you can use him once during the first 3 shooters and then however many times you need after that if it goes into extra rounds. I know plenty of guys in the league already have filthy hands so not every team would need to have a shootout specialist. But the fact that Linus Omark is putting on a show like this in the KHL right now instead of working his magic in the NHL just doesn’t seem right.
All I’m saying is that it’s a rule change worth exploring.