Tomas Hertl has been one of the most surprising stories in the young NHL season. In Tuesday's game against the New York Rangers, the 19-year old Hertl scored four goals. In five total games this year, Hertl has seven goals and an assist. He has scored more goals than the Buffalo Sabres have scored in six games combined.
In Tuesday's game, Hertl scored a beautiful, between-the-legs goal against Martin Biron for his fourth goal of the game. The goal wowed the crowd and left many other hockey fans in awe. However, some of the reaction to Hertl's goal has not been so pleasant.
Last night, Don Cherry said, "He didn’t think he did anything wrong. He played in the Czech Republic last year. This is what they do. You can see him laughing at it. He didn't understand. And kids, you don't do that." Cherry also said that he felt bad for Marty Biron and that he was laughed at because he gave that goal up. Washington Capitals coach, Adam Oates said, "Don't disrespect the league. I'm sure it was a rookie mistake." Kelly Chase said that Tomas Hertl showed up the Rangers and that he does not know any better.
Amongst all the negative reaction, there has been plenty of positive reaction to Hertl's dazzling goal. Joe Thornton's reaction is a detailed, being quoted as saying "I'd have my c*** out if I scored four goals. I'd have my c*** out, stroking it." Roberto Luongo had Hertl's back, saying "It's part of the game. He didn't do anything illegal so its all good." Luongo's teammate, Henrik Sedin, said "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?"
Many people also believe that Tomas Hertl broke the "code" by scoring the way he did. In a 7-2 game (at that point), Hertl should not have even tried to score his fourth goal the way he did. Sharks coach, Todd McLellan benched Hertl for the rest of the game, probably because he was worried that Hertl would be a target for someone to go after him.
So did Hertl break the "code" or show up Martin Biron and the Rangers? Absolutely not. I believe Hertl’s goal was a showing of how NHL players play today. They have the skills, and I believe they have every right to show them off when they can. Thomas Vanek scored a goal between his legs Thursday night against Columbus to tie the game 1-1. Did anyone criticize Vanek then? No. Marcus Foligno scored a between-the-legs goal against the Rangers last season off a rebound from the boards. Criticism there? Not a word. Marek Malik scored his between-the-leg goal in a shootout in 2006 to win the game. Once again, no one had any problem with it.
So why are so many people mad about the goal? Not a clue. Let the kid have his fun. He did not showboat after his goal, he did not try to show up anyone, period. Just a great display of skill, and that is what the NHL needs more of. Leave it be.
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