2010-12-12

What do Dr. Gregory House and Linus Omark have in common?

This is acclaimed British actor Hugh Laurie as Dr. Gregory House, from the hit NBC series. A true character cut from the Holmsian cloth, he's a brilliant medical doctor and diagnostic analyst, but he comes with a couple of critical character flaws. First off, he's a drug addict: suffering from the after-effects of a botched treatment of limb infarction, he finds himself a habitual user of painkiller vicodin. This has gotten himself an his colleagues in and out of legal troubles as they all become enablers of his fix. Secondly, and there's probably a lot more graceful ways to put this, but Dr. House is an asshole. Like Holmes, his interpersonal skills are not quite up to par -- but also like Holmes he fully understands matters of the heart and how to apply how people interact in order to solve cases. In House's case, it means insulting people seemingly at random, refusing to show care and compassion, and playing people like chess pieces in order to advance his own goals. How then, as the motivational poster asks, does House keep his license?

Well, besides the obvious (TV rules), it's because as Cracked.com puts it, House is right approximately 100 percent of the time. So we the audience and his coworkers forgive him for (the eventually successful!) sexual harassment of his boss, ordering underlings to commit crimes, insulting patients religions, and making racial jokes about a fellow doctor. Basically, if you can pull that sort of shit, they have to keep you around for some reason, and its basically that this guy saves 26 people a year who would die in the hands of every other doctor on earth.

Which brings us to this man: Linus Omark. Omark has been the talk of the NHL this weekend after his "spin-o-rama" move that beat Dan Ellis in the shootout and won the game for Edmonton. He has his fair share of supporters, and at least amoungst the Tampa Bay Lightning, a fair number of detractors. If you haven't watched his move at least 400 times already, here it is again:


The key though about this move has to be, however, that it worked. As I mentioned on Twitter, if Dan Ellis didn't like this sort of garbage move and wanted to see Omark pay a price for it, all he had to do was stop the puck. If Ellis had made the save, the entire talk would instead be about how Omark did a silly little spin before he got stoned. We'd be discussing how Omark maybe isn't ready for the big leagues yet, how he has a lot of learning to do about what it takes to compete at the NHL level, and how hotdogging is better left to skilled players. A save by Ellis might have decimated the kid's confidence to the point that when Hemksy returns in a month Omark would find himself back in Oklahoma, his brief NHL stint a mere footnote. Omark could have been the goat in that game had he missed. It would have been like Dr. House's asshole racist double, who violates all sorts of ethics rules and completely fails to save any patients, and ultimately gets booted out into the street.

TSN got this when they asked "if players have to earn the right to be flashy:

To the victor go the spoils. Today just about everyone (except the Lightning) is praising Omark's unusual shootout marker. What if he had missed, pulled the spin-o-rama and accidentally lost control of the puck, voiding his shot, or following it up with a weak wrister wide of the net? Instead of commending Omark today, would fans and hockey pundits instead be criticizing the first-year player's brazen, misguided cockiness? Is the fact that puck went into the net all that matters when all is said and done?
Of all the Lightning players upset about this goal, Ellis is the last one allowed to mouth off about it. Omark has (at least some) skill to back up his hotdogging, and his job in the league is to score goals, particularly in breakaways and the shootout where he excels. Omark was not called up from Oklahoma City in order to not make Dan Ellis look like a weak goaltender (I'm not sure, offhand, who they could have called up to fulfill that role). So long as Omark keeps on saving lives at the Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital, he's allowed to do spin-o-rama's in mid-ice in the same way that Gregory House can keep using every word allowed on broadcast TV to insult the black race and by extension Foreman if it means he will continue to put the puck in the net and help the Edmonton Oilers win hockey games.