Russo's NHL Insider: Don't hate the human highlight

  • Updated: October 12, 2013 - 10:31 PM

San Jose Sharks teen Tomas Hertl’s stickwork on one of his four goals against the Rangers was a treat for the home crowd but one that had a little too much mustard for some old-school NHLers.

Photo: Marcio Jose Sanchez • Associated Press,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Maybe it’s like this in other sports and my NHL tunnel vision doesn’t allow me to see it, but every year in hockey, we always have some sort of inane media-generated controversy.

The latest came Tuesday when San Jose Sharks 19-year-old Tomas Hertl, a 2012 first-round pick from the Czech Republic, scored four goals in a 9-2 rout against the Rangers. The fourth goal — and eighth Sharks goal of the night — came by Hertl skating in on a breakaway, slipping the puck backward between his legs and flipping it against the grain under the bar.

The Shark Tank went into a frenzy. Insane goal, one that went viral on YouTube and trended on Twitter, not simply because of Hertl’s stunning move, but because it came from a baby-faced teenager that few people — other than scouts paid to know these kids — had ever heard of.

Hertl officially had taken the hockey world by storm — not just Silicon Valley.

The next day, though, questions started to rumble: Did Hertl, now nicknamed “Sharknado” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Hertl,” disrespect the Rangers (like they didn’t do that to themselves) or disrespect the game?

It especially blew up when Washington Capitals coach Adam Oates, a Hall of Fame center who was as skilled a playmaker as there was during his playing days, told Caps reporters he was “upset.”

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

“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. 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.”

It’s true Todd McLellan sat Hertl the final eight minutes, and the assumption was he was trying to protect Hertl in case the Rangers wanted to retaliate. The Sharks coach denies this and can’t believe folks are criticizing the kid.

Oates is as respected as you get, but his quotes made my forehead boil Thursday. Coincidentally, as I was simmering, I happened to overhear (OK, I was eavesdropping on) two guys at a salad bar.

Ojars Linde and David Jordal were going on and on about Hertl’s goal. Linde said, “That’s the stuff we love about hockey.” Jordal said, “Reminded me of you in your younger days.”

This is what NHL dinosaurs and old-school media folks need to hear. The NHL is about entertainment, not a bunch of robots cycling in the corner or blocking shots. Hertl flashes impressive skill on a fourth goal of a game, and he’s accused of making a “rookie mistake?”

Hertl’s goal got the NHL on ESPN, Deadspin, had 7-year-olds asking their dads to rewind the DVR so they can see the goal again (former Wild defenseman Shane Hnidy, now a broadcaster with the Winnipeg Jets, recounted that story).

“You score three goals in a game, you can do whatever you want. We’re in the entertainment business,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said.

Added Vancouver’s Henrik Sedin, “He scored a beautiful goal. It was fun to watch. If I were a fan of the game — which I am — I loved it. Is hockey the only sport where if you do something nice, you talk about showboating?”

Exactly. This wasn’t Nail Yakupov sliding the length of the ice on two knees after scoring a tying goal last season.

This was a kid being a kid, a kid excited he did something that hadn’t been accomplished by a rookie in 25 years.

A Selanne production

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Atlanta 2
Philadelphia 3 FINAL
NY Yankees 1
Detroit 5 FINAL
Baltimore 4
Toronto 4 FINAL
Pittsburgh 1
Cincinnati 2 FINAL
Cleveland 4
San Diego 3 FINAL
Seattle 4
Chicago WSox 6 FINAL
Los Angeles 4
Kansas City 13 FINAL
Texas 2
Oakland 9 FINAL
San Francisco 2
Wisc-Milwaukee 0 FINAL
Milwaukee 8
Arizona 6 FINAL
Colorado 3
Univ of Minnesota 1 FINAL
Minnesota 3
New York 82 FINAL
Indiana 105
Phoenix 105 FINAL
Orlando 100
Cleveland 120 FINAL
Toronto 112
Utah 84 FINAL
Boston 85
Charlotte 115 FINAL
Brooklyn 91
Denver 100 FINAL
Minnesota 85
Detroit 85 FINAL
New Orleans 88
LA Lakers 94 FINAL
Miami 100
Philadelphia 118 FINAL
Oklahoma City 123
Memphis 102 FINAL
Houston 100
Sacramento 85 FINAL
San Antonio 112
Milwaukee 93 FINAL
Golden State 102
Portland 98 FINAL
LA Clippers 93
Ottawa 3 FINAL
Winnipeg 1
NY Rangers 1 FINAL(OT)
Detroit 2
Pittsburgh 1 FINAL
Colorado 3
Montreal 1 FINAL
Anaheim 3
Longwood 65 FINAL
Presbyterian 61
Campbell 64 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 72
Liberty 70 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 80
Ohio State 77 FINAL
Penn State 67
Maine 66 FINAL
Albany 83
Duquesne 81 FINAL
Fordham 66
George Washington 67 FINAL
George Mason 51
Tennessee 78 FINAL
LSU 63
Notre Dame 71 FINAL
Louisville 59
SE Missouri St 74 FINAL
Morehead State 79
St Francis-PA 73 FINAL
Mount St Marys 58
Hartford 63 FINAL
New Hampshire 67
Wagner 68 FINAL
Robert Morris 91
Long Island 70 FINAL
St Francis-NY 79
La Salle 50 FINAL
Saint Josephs 55
Providence 79 FINAL
Seton Hall 66
South Florida 74
Binghamton 57 FINAL
Stony Brook 62
Vermont 66
Sacred Heart 85 FINAL
Bryant 91
Richmond 56 FINAL
Massachusetts 53
Wake Forest 51 FINAL
Duke 94
Purdue 66 FINAL
Michigan State 72
Miami-Florida 67 FINAL
Pittsburgh 63
St Bonaventure 64 FINAL
Saint Louis 48
New Mexico St 69 FINAL
TX-Pan American 48
Houston 68 FINAL
Tulane 63
Howard 62 FINAL
Oklahoma State 82
Cincinnati 56 FINAL
Tulsa 47
Miss State 56 FINAL
Vanderbilt 66
Utah State 53 FINAL
Wyoming 76
St Johns 67 FINAL
Marquette 51
SIU Edwardsville 66 FINAL
Eastern Ill 78
Air Force 66 FINAL
Fresno State 68
Nebraska 57 FINAL
Illinois 69
Colorado State 78 FINAL
Nevada 62
Boise State 68 FINAL
San Jose St 51
San Diego St 60 FINAL
Oregon 65 FINAL
Oregon State 62
UC Santa Barbara 98 FINAL
Hawaii 90
Toledo 64 FINAL
Northern Ill 68
Wake Forest 69 FINAL
Boston College 53
Eastern Illinois 35 FINAL
UT Martin 68
Austin Peay 69 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 72
Virginia Tech 57 FINAL
NC State 56
Massachusetts 55 FINAL
St Bonaventure 49
Auburn 71 FINAL
Florida 49
Penn State 63 FINAL
Indiana 68
Clemson 53 FINAL
Georgia Tech 80
Davidson 63 FINAL
La Salle 74
Loyola-Maryland 46 FINAL
Lafayette 58
Boston U 48 FINAL
Colgate 58
Coll of Charleston 58 FINAL
James Madison 107
Delaware 76 FINAL
Elon 77
Drexel 58 FINAL
Northeastern 42
Hofstra 75 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 76
Towson 56 FINAL
William & Mary 68
Miami-Ohio 55 FINAL
Akron 67
Ball State 85 FINAL
Central Michigan 69
Buffalo 55 FINAL
Bowling Green 47
Western Mich 65 FINAL
Eastern Michigan 74
Ohio U 69 FINAL
Kent State 56
Youngstown St 62 FINAL
Cleveland State 73
Illinois-Chicago 54 FINAL
Wright State 74
Alabama 56 FINAL
Vanderbilt 66
Detroit 60 FINAL
Milwaukee 56
Purdue 58 FINAL
Wisconsin 56
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: Who is doing the best job coaching a Minnesota pro sports team?

Weekly Question