In a recently published interview Linus Omark speaks about his first year in the NHL (and the AHL) with the Oilers organization. Below you find the whole thing freely translated.
Omark: Obviously I’m happy I’ve got to play my first NHL-game and played rather good from time to time and showed I have the capacity to play in this league. Sure, it’s been a pretty big change in life to first move from Sweden to Russia onward to the NHL. Now, it is the first time I live alone as I had Harju with me when I played in Russia. On the ice the difference is the smaller rinks and the fact you don’t have the same amount of time to do stuff. But apart from that the biggest difference is to live outside the rink.
Q: Does your technical style of hockey adept well with the smaller rinks?
Omark: Well, sure it does. Over there (NA) the style of hockey is fun and the smaller rinks makes it closer to goal which suits me since I’m a offensive player.
Q: You also played with Oklahoma (City Barons) in the AHL. What skill level do the teams in the AHL have compared to those in the Swedish Elite League?
Omark: I’ve been asked that question several times during the season and I haven’t got a good answer to that question since it’s so hard to compare the different leagues. It’s a completely different hockey that’s being played in the AHL compared to the SEL. The game is a lot more physical in the AHL and a lot more dumping the puck and chase after it. The top teams in the AHL have a very high standard. Lots of the teams in Sweden tend to buy players from the AHL who later becomes stars in the SEL. To some extent, that must say something about the skill level of both the players and the league itself.
Q: Are there still lots of fights in the AHL or is there more of a “pure” hockey that is being played there?
Omark: There are still a couple of fights. In some games there can be up to five or six fights while there isn’t any in your next game.
Q: How does it affect you when you get sent back and fourth between the NHL and the AHL?
Omark: Obviously its pretty tough. t feels like juniors all over. You don’t know where or how you’re gonna play. Also, you play under a rather special pressure when you’re playing with your life on the line as I did last year. If you’re in the AHL you have to look up and perform so that you get to the NHL. Whilst when you’re in the NHL you have to perform even better not to get sent back down again. Also, it ain’t a whole lot fun to live at a hotel which I did most of the time, even if I spent some time at Magnus Pääjärvis place too. My goal now is to start the season in Edmonton, stay there and establish myself in the team, get myself an apartment in the city and live there.
Q: How do you, your team mates and the fans in Edmonton look at Magnus Pääjärvis rookie season in the NHL?
Omark: He’s young and with that in mind I think he had a great season. You also notice that when you’re out in Edmonton with Magnus how well appreciated he is among the fans. People always come to us and wants his picture and talk hockey with him. He will without a doubt succed in the NHL.
Q: Edmonton Oilers have a rather amazing history as a NHL-organization. How do you notice that as a player?
Omark: There’s pictures of Gretzky, Messier and the other dudes in the corridors and inside the dressing room there is five Stanley Cups, so sure you take notice.
Q: Is there even more pressure on you players due to the teams earlier success?
Omark: Edmonton is hockey-crazy. But I didn’t find we have a particular demand on us (due to the history). Last season, my experience was rather positive among the fans even though we didn’t make the playoffs. The fans pep us and support us even when we’re having a rough time.
Q: On Renney..
Omark: I like Renney. He’s easy to talk to and he often listens to us players. Sure, he has his rules he wants us to follow. But aside from that we’re pretty free. He’s a good coach that I like really well.
Q: Tell us about your NHL-debut.
Omark: First and foremost it ws amazingly big to play in the NHL. That the opponent was Tampa Bay with my best friend Johan Harju in the team was something I couldn’t have dreamt about. Adding to that that I got to seal the deal with a penalty maked the game a fantastic memory.
Q: What’s a realistic goal for the Edmonton Oilers this coming season?
Omark: Hard to tell. The Edmonton Oilers will be a very good team since the organization have opted for a young team and in the long run. I can’t say how well we’ll perform as soon as this coming season. All the young guys will atleast have one more season behind them and our first goal should at least to reach the playoffs.
Q: So, does the Oilers invest in a young team, similar to the one that gave them all the titles during the 80’s when they took over the throne from the Islanders?
Omark: I’m not too familiar with how Edmonton’s thoughts are when it comes to this. But yes, we have a young team for the future where we also got two picks in the drafts first round this year (Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Oscar Klefbom).
Q: You were forced to say no to participate in the Worlds this spring due to a back-injury. Do you still have problems with it?
Omark: No, no problems at all. I’ve had some time off, rested and today I’m fully recovered.
Q: How’s the summer been for Linus Omark?
Omark: I’ve been out travelling some. But there have been a lot of training. Currently I’m training with Luleå until I get back to the NHL.
Q: Where your goal is..?
Omark: I want a regular spot in the Edmonton Oilers. Then it’s up to me to prove I’m worthy of it.
My own comment on this one? Well, I’m glad Omark talks about the Oilers as his team and Edmonton as the city he wants to live in. I’m also thrilled he wants to prove his worth. It also saddens me that again Swedish journalists don’t seem to know much about Oilers today nor the AHL.. but oh well, all normal here in Sweden.