If you didn't love that goal by Sharks rookie Tomas Hertl on Tuesday night, the sheer brilliance and imagination of the play, then perhaps it is time to crawl back into your cave.
If you didn't love that goal by Tomas Hertl on Tuesday night, the sheer brilliance and imagination of the play, then perhaps it is time to crawl back into your cave.
It was beautiful. It was awesome. It was, as the kids say today, sick!
Racing in on New York Rangers goalie Martin Biron, the 19-year-old Czech rookie on the San Jose Sharks slipped the puck between his legs, followed by the blade of his stick, and deftly ripped a shot high into the net. My description of the play does not do it justice. It was a work of art. One of the prettiest goals you will see this season.
It was also Hertl's fourth goal of the game and put his team ahead 8-2 in a game that wound up 9-2.
Almost as quickly as the red light went on to signify the goal, the critics were all over the youngster.
"It was a hotdog play," some hollered.
"The timing was bad, in a 7-2 game," others suggested.
"He was showing up a veteran goalie," some sympathized.
To all of that I say, take a pill!
If Hertl had scored on a wrist shot or a slap shot or a deke, nobody would have said a word. But because he scored on a wildly exciting manoeuvre that we are not accustomed to seeing, he gets ripped. That makes no sense.
It wasn't a hotdog play. It was a kid displaying a high level of skill. In today's NHL we often see a boatload of coaches on the ice at practice (the Toronto Maple Leafs regularly have six on the ice), all trying to suck the life out of the game. They teach players how to prevent goals, not score them.
Players, meanwhile, have taken the skill portion of the game to much higher levels despite all the defensive coaching. They study each other's moves on YouTube and then they try to take them to a higher level.
You would be amazed to see the tricky moves some players perform at practice, and yet when they pull those moves out in a game, they are scorned. I don't get it.
A young Kyle Wellwood, trying to find his way in the NHL with the Maple Leafs a number of years ago, tried a similar trick move to the one Hertl used and was ripped by his coach, Pat Quinn, after the game.
"If he's going to use that tomfoolery he'll find himself sitting in the stands," said Quinn, instantly revealing the generation gap between the coach and today's player.
Players experiment with new moves and they should not be discouraged from using them in games, regardless of the score or time of the contest. It's called entertainment, people.
When Boom Boom Geoffrion starting slapping at the puck instead of taking a wrist shot like everybody else, he wasn't showing off or trying to humiliate opponents. He was simply trying to score using a new strategy. The slap shot became all the rage in hockey and is part of the evolution of the game.
Peter Forsberg used a revolutionary deke, going one way with his body and causing the opposing goalie, in this instance Canada's Corey Hirsch, to follow him while reaching back with his stick to allow the puck to crawl into the vacated net. It was such a beautiful goal, it was immortalized on a stamp in Sweden.
And you know what? It was in the shootout in the gold-medal game of the 1994 Olympic Games. Talk about timing! Forsberg had a trick up his sleeve and he wasn't afraid to use it.
Toronto's Mason Raymond scored a shootout winner last week with a spin-o-rama play. Years ago players wouldn't dream of trying that, and even one of his teammates said if he attempted that play the puck would likely end up in the corner of the rink. Raymond did it because he could.
Eric Nystrom of the Nashville Predators, who is 30 years old, gave the green light to youngsters such as Hertl using whatever tricks they have up their sleeve to score and excite the crowd.
"I mean, if I score a goal it is incredible how much more confident you are with the puck, how much the plays slows down for you," Nystrom said. "If you have the ability to make that move you're just feeling it for some reason. If you have a hat trick already, that feeling is multiplied by 100. He just came in and it presented itself to him. He scored a goal. I didn't think it was excessive. It was a great goal. I enjoy seeing things like that. To be able to do it in real time and not even in a shootout is incredible. I wouldn't even think of doing that because I can't do it. That was amazing."
Tomas Hertl should not be condemned for displaying his skill. He should be applauded.
Mike BrophyMike Brophy brings a wealth of hockey writing and broadcasting experience to CBC Sports, having covered junior hockey for 14 years before joining The Hockey News as its senior writer for 17 years starting in 1992. Most recently, the Burlington, Ont., native worked as a writer/commentator at Rogers Sportsnet and as co-host of The Power Play on SiriusXM. Mike has written four books, including My First Goal, featuring 50 players describing their first NHL goals.
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