Linus Omark on His First NHL Season

Linus Omark, tough with the puck, tough to gauge going forward.

With the advent of the internet, some things have become much better in our lives, some not so much. One of the things that has gotten better is how easy it is to communicate, to make new freinds across town, somewhere else in the country or even somewhere else in the world.

There are many readers of Copper & Blue who have never set foot in Rexall Place, and others who have never seen the Edmonton Oilers play live anywhere. Not all of our readers abroad are in the same boat, but my point is that we are so fortunate to have a tie that can bring so many people with such varied backgrounds together.  It is with great pleasure that I announce that the Copper & Blue family has had yet another Swedish translator step up to help make sense where google translator can't. Thank you very much to Yngve Elverhøi of Norway who was able to translate an enjoyable read of Linus Omark's first year in North America.

Linus Omark is an interesting fellow. Long before he came to Edmonton, or even Oklahoma, many Oilers fans waited with bated breath to see what the youtube shootout sensation could do. After what we understood to be a great training camp, Omark was sent to Oklahoma. It was believed to be partially a numbers thing, and partially a means to help bridge the winger's European game to the North American style play. As we remember, Omark was not happy being sent down to OKC, and felt that he should have remained in the NHL with fellow Swede Magnus Paajarvi. In his time with the Barons, Omark wowed the inaugural AHL crowds of the Cox Convention Center. In one game, Omark scored five goals and a shootout goal. When he arrived in the NHL, Omark had his spin-o-rama shootout goal, but otherwise didn't leave the same impression on all fans. Some still tout Omark as trade bait, and say that this Swede won't have a place on the team long term, while others wait patiently for next season to see what Omark will do, especially if yet another Swede, Anton Lander, is added to the mix.

From the Norrbettens' Kuriren, fans can hear from Omark himself how he felt about his first season in North America. Make sure you click on the article itself to see what Omark wears golfing.

***

51 NHL games.

27 points.

The numbers don't glow, but Linus Omark made his mark on the NHL even in his rookie year. His much discussed shootout goal and dissappointed comments after being sent down to Oklahoma City are still remembered by NHL reporters and Edmonton fans.

"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."

Linus Omark arrives 38 minutes late for his interview. He comes running with his golf bag over his shoulder. "I apologize, I thought the interview was off and was golfing with Olle (Niklas Olausson) and Marre (Mats Lavander) when you contacted me."

*Took its toll*
"The first season in the NHL took its toll, both physically and mentally. Linus Omark's Edmonton Oilers finished last in the entire NHL and never got the chance to play in the post-season. But the Övertorneå native's season did not finish there as he was sent to Oklahoma to contribute to their playoff campaign. There was not a whole lot of energy left in him when the 24 year old landed in Luleå after a total of 85 games. "I was really tired. I suffered from back pains towards the end, but was mentally fatigued as well."

*How do you view your first NHL campaign?*

"In the beginning it was all about re-grouping. It took eight to ten games before I got comfortable with the smaller ice surface. Towards the end of the season, I had a lot of confidence in the last 20 games. I think it went really well. It was a big difference from the first NHL games. But that's the way it goes in any league. It was like that in the KHL, Elitserien, A juniors, B juniors. I have now experienced the NHL and know what it is about" says Omark.

*Tough competition*

"The Edmonton Oilers are building for the future. Recently the club drafted super talent Ryan Nugent-Hopkins first overall. Timrå's Anton Lander is going to the Oilers, and the best-paid player on the roster, Ryan Smyth, has arrived from the Los Angeles Kings. At the moment Edmonton has 15 forwards in their squad and Linus Omark will attempt to gain a spot among those players. "It is going to be a tough camp in September. My focus is to secure a spot on the roster and just want to get in there and impress."

*How do you view your chances of securing a roster spot?*
"Now they know what kind of player I am. I hope Edmonton gives me the chance. They have been positive, but I don't know how they plan to do things. I can be traded just like my former teammate Andrew Cogliano.

*Patrick Berglund stated in an interview with Expressen that he didn't take training camp seriously enough after his first NHL season. What are your thoughts on that?*
"I do what I believe in and everything in my power to get in shape before the season and will do all it takes to succeed. I have two months left of summer training and will be prepared when it all kicks off. I have not talked to Luleå yet, but I hope to train with them once they gather on July 25th."

*Your second NHL season?*

"I am not worried about that. I have had second seasons in Luleå as well. Clearly, the pressure is higher in the second year, but you just have to go with it. Thinking too much about the pressure leads to no good."

*What do you think about Luleå's upcoming season?*

"I think they will take the next step and go to the finals. On paper it looks very good. 'Rönken' (Jonas Rönnqvist, coach) must be credited for his good work."

*One year left on your deal with the Oilers, what happens next?*

"I want to stay in the NHL. It is still the best league in the world and everything is thoroughly professional. I want to play there as long as I can and am allowed to.

*Johan Harju is building a house in Luleå, are you planning to do the same?*
"The thought has struck me, but I am happy with my apartment in Kungsgatan. Right now I want to live in Luleå, but five years from now I don't know. My girlfriend is from here, but she has a say in it too. I understand Johan, he is (expletive) happy here and I have also looked into the housing market, but if I buy it has to be someplace I really like."

*Are you helping Harju with the carpentry?*

(laughs) "I don't think he'll let me."

***

Omark doesn't exactly leave one with the feeling that he believes he will be an Oiler long term, especially when he brought up the recent Andrew Cogliano trade. At the same time, you have to recognize that Omark sees this league and team with different eyes than most of us. At the very least Omark is able to easily recognize that the NHL is full of competition and nearly anything can happen to end a career early.

The other difficult thing to remember, at least for some fans, is that Omark is not a young kid. Omark is a grown man of 24, and is coming into the prime years of his career. It is up to Omark to bring a good attitude and a competitive edge to training camp. Of course, if he had a whole new series of shootout moves, that wouldn't exactly hurt either. 

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