Omark's spin-o-rama causing a stir

TERRY JONES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:26 AM ET

EDMONTON - Some days it's a matter of just not screwing them up.

Other days it's more a matter of not letting them screw themselves up.

And just when you think you have a handle on that with Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Magnus Paajarvi, along comes Linus Omark.

There have been a lot of great coaches in the history of hockey and not many have had a year like Tom Renney is having here.

"I'm having a lot of fun," said the head kindergarten teacher, bottle washer and diaper changer of the Edmonton Oilers.

"It's like an eight-second bull ride. You just hang on."

While a significant percentage of the hockey world has their shorts in a knot over Omark's spin-o-rama move before hitting the blue-line on his shootout winner Friday against Tampa Bay, let's look at what's happening here from a bigger picture point of view.

You're at the game, after you've watched Taylor Hall score his 10th goal of the season and fourth in the last four games. You've just watched Magnus Paajarvi score his first NHL goal at home and sixth point in his last five games.

The first thing you think of when Steven Stamkos scores with eight minutes remaining in the third period isn't "oh no, the Oilers are going to lose" but "oh goody, maybe we're going to get another shootout."

When Jordan Eberle scores on the first shootout attempt and Hall gets stopped on the second, you're now on your feet and cheering madly because it means you get to watch hockey's YouTube shootout sensation Omark show his stuff.

You're making so much noise he makes a false start before the referee blows his whistle to go.

The last thing you want to see him do, no matter if you're an old-time hockey guy or his grandson, is simply see the hugely hyped Omark skate in and take a shot.

You're expecting something spectacular. There's an anticipation factor built in.

So Omark does a spin-o-rama move before he gets to the blue-line and, oh my gawd, he's insulted the game and everybody in it dating back to Howie Morenz who I suspect would have loved to have had such a moment for himself.

He scored!

They won!

Omark made everybody remember his first game forever.

The crowd went crazy. Everybody was entertained. And Don Cherry had a free gift to gab about on Coaches Corner.

If you're Tom Renney maybe you're tempted to say "Way to go, kid! Don't do it again." Fair enough.

On the other hand, so much about this is letting the young thoroughbreds run with the reins real loose and learn their lessons on the run.

The real study here is Renney who, if he handles these kids right -- and he's been the perfect hockey papa to these pups so far -- is going to have a fun run forward to a fabulous future for this bottomed-out franchise.

"We're certainly content to let these young guys play at their strengths while we help them understand the away-from-the-puck game as they develop accountability, discipline and attention to detail," he said Saturday.

"It's a juggling act. I don't want to stifle their creativity. Their skill is pretty open ended.

"You've got to let them do what they do. It's how they handle themselves after they do it."

Renney says Omark is stepping into a pretty good scene where already his peer group of young players "has already established such a solid culture here. These kids are such quality, character people."

The focus this weekend is on young Omark, who became an overwhelming fan favourite in this quirky season as Edmonton experiences the joy of hockey while fans in Toronto, Calgary and Ottawa sit in similar spots in the standings having no fun at all.

"It's amazing," said Renney. "But we've been open and honest on behalf of our fan base. We didn't B.S. anybody. And these fans are excited about these young guys growing up in front of their eyes."

While the Oilers remain positioned to be in the draft lottery, three coaches and a general manager in Toronto, Ottawa and Calgary wonder if they're going to be fired before Christmas and Renney may be the safest coach in hockey.

"It's crazy isn't it," he said of coaching all this HOPE - Hall, Omark,Paajarvi and Eberle.

Twitter.com/sunterryjones

terry.jones@sunmedia.ca


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