Adam Oates on Tomas Hertl’s goal: ‘Don’t disrespect the league’

October 10, 2013

San Jose Sharks Tomas Hertl shoots the puck between his legs past New York Rangers goalie Martin Biron during the third period at SAP Center at San Jose. (Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports)

Sharks rookie Tomas Hertl captivated the hockey world with his breakout performance Tuesday night in San Jose’s 9-2 rout of the New York Rangers.

It wasn’t only that the 19-year-old Czech winger became the first rookie to score four goals in a single game since 1988, but the manner in which he capped off the performance. For his fourth goal – the Sharks’ eighth of the night — Hertl pulled the puck through his skates and made a between-the-legs trick shot.

If you haven’t seen the goal, check out the video.

It’s undoubtedly a fantastic shot, but some across the NHL see it more as showboating when scoring a flashy goal at that stage of the game. Sharks Coach Todd McLellan didn’t play Hertl the final 7:55 of the game, likely to prevent any attempt of retribution on New York’s part.

Capitals Coach Adam Oates can appreciate the cool play, but sides with those who don’t see that type of goal as appropriate.

“I’m upset. I was just talking to George [McPhee] and he said all the kids do that nowadays, which I understand. But would he have done it on his first goal?” Oates said. “He hasn’t scored yet tonight and he gets a breakaway, is he going to do that on his breakaway? We’ll see.

“I think it was a little bit of a mood thing, which I’m sure they talked about, because they didn’t play him after that,” Oates continued. “I’m glad the coach did that because this league, it will bite you if you’re not sharp. Don’t disrespect the league. I’m sure it was a rookie mistake.”

During Oates’s playing days, a goal like that would have brought at least a fight or a solid slash from a goaltender, if not more.

“Great move, don’t get me wrong — it’s a shootout move or something, and it’s great,” Oates said. “I’m glad the way San Jose treated it. As long as he doesn’t disrespect the league. The league’s hard.”

This isn’t the first time a goal or celebration — Alex Ovechkin’s hot-stick celebration from a few years back or Nail Yakupov sliding through center ice come to mind – has been critiqued as grandstanding in the NHL. Treating the game and opponents with respect by keeping emotions in check has long been a valued part of hockey’s culture. But perhaps with each new generation of hockey players, that is changing.

What do you think? Should Hertl be celebrated for the trick goal or taught not to pile on in that situation?

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