It’s pretty safe to say that Tomas Hertl burst onto the scene like a madman to start his NHL career.
Before getting his knee taken out by Dustin Brown in December, Hertl was having one of the finest rookie seasons in the NHL this year, and was getting heavy consideration for the NHL rookie of the year, although I still think he would’ve lost to Nathan MacKinnon in the grand scheme of things.
Hertl had 15 goals and 10 assists for a total of 25 points in 37 games and was a +11. He also added a few well timed playoff goals.
Hertl just knows how to put the puck in the back of the net. He is one of those players that has great offensive awareness and always seems to make the right play at the right time. He also goes to the net. Some of his memorable goals, including his hat trick goal against the New York Rangers, were just by being in front of the net and getting a deflection or a juicy rebound.
The last time the Sharks had a player that consistently parked himself at the front of the net like that was Benn Ferriero, and trust me, Hertl is much better than Ferriero. I do miss Benn though. I always thought he was underused.
But perhaps the greatest positive I saw from Tomas Hertl last year wasn’t the way he scores, the way he sets up offensively, or anything like that.
The greatest positive I saw from Tomas Hertl is the passion he plays the game with. He loves hockey, and you can tell anytime he puts the puck in the back of the net. Actually, you can tell anytime ANYBODY puts the puck in the back of the net. He just gets this big smile and shows the excitement he has for this great game of hockey. And that is another thing the Sharks have been missing.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure all of them love playing hockey, and I’m sure all are very passionate, but it has been a long time since I’ve seen someone as excited and as happy playing hockey as Tomas Hertl.
It’s really hard to give Hertl any negatives because of how little he played.
There’s a possibility he’s like a Patrick Marleau and is a bit streaky with his goal scoring. He started the year off scoring at will, and then kind of died down, but then he picked it back up and would start scoring again. But it’s hard to call a player streaky when he has played 37 career games.
I guess the biggest negative I can honestly say with Hertl is the way he skates. He has to keep his head up. When he was injured by Dustin Brown, he was looking down at the puck and didn’t see Brown coming over the middle. Brown still shouldn’t have stuck his leg out, but that’s not the point. If Hertl had his head up, he probably would’ve been able to avoid the hit. But it’s not only the Brown injury. Earlier in the year, when in Vancouver, Alex Edler hit Hertl with a shot to the head which stung him up a bit. He was fine and didn’t miss any games, but the hit was again a result of Hertl not keeping his head up.
I’m sure he’ll figure out that he needs to be more alert, as he’s only played 37 games, but if he doesn’t, it could be the result of a few more injuries in Hertl’s career. And I don’t want to see that happen.
Honestly, was there even any doubt as to what his best moment would be? This is a highlight reel Sharks fans will be watching for years to come. Despite the fact that it was a forgettable year, this was an absolute unforgettable moment.
Also, Hertl added a few memorable quotes. Such as “Fun must be always” when he was in rehab with some old folks, and he tugged on Sharks fans heart strings with the “I not much like LA” comment, and then he tugged on all of hockey’s heart strings when he made fun of Don Cherry. And then we found out that he just discovered Dave and Buster’s this year, and immediately fell in love with it.
Plus, look at his face!
Oh, Tomas. Never change.