Everyone has been buzzing about San Jose Sharks rookie phenom Tomas Hertl over the past week, and deservedly so. The 19-year-old has scored six goals in his first three NHL games. He bypassed the hat trick on Tuesday night and scored four goals in a 9-2 win over the New York Rangers. The fourth one rubbed some people the wrong way, most notably Washington Capitals coach Adam Oates.
Hertl’s incredible between-the-legs goal gave the Sharks an 8-2 lead. Since his team was up 7-2 at the time he netted the crowd-pleaser, Oates felt Hertl was simply showboating.
“I’m upset. I was just talking to (Capitals GM George McPhee) and he said all the kids do that nowadays, which I understand,” Oates said, according to 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? 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. 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.”
Hertl did not play for the final eight minutes or so of the game after scoring his fourth goal. That could have been simply to avoid injury and let him call it a night, or it could have been because Sharks coach Todd McLellan was concerned that some of the Rangers would feel the same way Oates does about the fancy goal.
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“Great move, don’t get me wrong — it’s a shootout move or something, and it’s great,” Oates added. “I’m glad the way San Jose treated it. As long as he doesn’t disrespect the league. The league’s hard.”
Hertl is obviously an incredible talent. That means opponents are going to be gunning for him whether he scores goals between his own legs or not. Personally, I feel that it’s a team’s job to stop allowing so many breakaways if they don’t want to be scored on nine times. Oates should be blaming the Rangers.