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VANCOUVER – Sharks head coach Todd McLellan and Canucks forward Henrik Sedin both expressed disdain for anyone that would criticize rookie Tomas Hertl for his fancy fourth goal and ensuing celebration on Tuesday night.
Hertl scored four times against the Rangers, including a between-the-legs shot over the shoulder of goalie Martin Biron, to give San Jose an 8-2 third period lead. The Sharks won, 9-2.
“I can’t believe there would be any negative reaction,” McLellan said, rattling off the various rules changes instituted after the 2005 lockout in order to increase goal-scoring.
He continued: “Now, a young 19-year-old comes into the league, he scores four goals, can’t speak the language, doesn’t really even understand where he is right now, and we’re going to criticize him for that?”
Still, McLellan did suggest that Hertl could tone down the celebrating, which may have been a bit excessive after the fourth goal, considering the score at the time.
“The one thing he’ll have to learn a little bit is the celebration, but he’s four goals into the game, his emotions [are] running high, his mom is at the game. The celebration maybe was a little overboard. I don’t even know how I tell him that, because he’s not going to understand it,” McLellan said, eliciting laughter.
Sedin, whose brother scored a similar goal in a similar situation against Calgary in April 2010, was even more blunt than McLellan.
“I really don’t understand what we’re talking about. He scored a beautiful goal. It’s fun to watch. If I would have been a fan of the game, which I am, I love it. Is hockey the only sport where if you do something nice you talk about showboating? I don’t get it," Sedin said.
“In any other sport, if it’s basketball or football whatever it is, if you do something nice or make a nice move and it gets on the highlights, everyone is raving about it. In hockey, you can’t do that. The best play is maybe to shoot it off someone’s back and it goes in, because then no one is talking about it.”
“Hockey is about scoring goals and winning games. We talk a lot about bringing excitement to the game and giving things to the fans, and he did. It’s great. What should he have done, come in and shoot it off his pads? I don’t get it.”
McLellan did not play Hertl after the fourth goal, which some took to mean he was protecting Hertl from any retribution from the Rangers. The coach correctly pointed out, though, that the entire line of Hertl, Joe Thornton and Brent Burns did not play for the remainder of the game.