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-   -   Sandis Ozolinsh (http://hfboards.hockeysfuture.com/showthread.php?t=1324087)

begbeee 01-15-2013 04:41 PM

Sandis Ozolinsh
 
How good he was? To whom can he be compared? Why he dissappeared so quickly?

He was a decent talent, created some noise during his early years and then I remember him as a premier offensive defensman and to some extent he was a counterpart of Lidstrom (!) in Colorado during late 90s.
And then he just vanished...

Old Man Barking 01-15-2013 04:45 PM

Drinking problems, unfortunately.

I'll never forget after a series of insane passes, Bill Clement exclaiming, "And Ozolinsh's Hi-wire act continues!"

I also recall having him and Skoula dominant the offensive zone while the forwards fell back on D for a few minutes. Insane.

Big Phil 01-15-2013 04:52 PM

He was a premier defenseman for a little while in the NHL. No doubt his bread and butter was offense but he was scary out there. For a brief time you may have thought of him as the most offensive defenseman in the NHL, or Brian Leetch. In Game 4 of the 1996 final I can distinctly remember him somehow sneaking in from the blueline in overtime and being all alone against Beezer point blank for the Cup win. He didn't score, but that was just the kind of things you expected from him.

begbeee 01-15-2013 05:05 PM

I make a smooth connection to Bust thread: someone wrote there, Sharks choose Falloon over Niedermayer because they had hidden Ozolinsh out there...
Was it a smart move? One can argue Ozolinsh 1993-199? had was a better of the two, can't he?

Mayor Bee 01-15-2013 05:20 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by begbeee (Post 57641683)
I make a smooth connection to Bust thread: someone wrote there, Sharks choose Falloon over Niedermayer because they had hidden Ozolinsh out there...
Was it a smart move? One can argue Ozolinsh 1993-199? had was a better of the two, can't he?

Ozolinsh was a different type of player. For his first few years, Niedermayer played tentatively, almost as if he was afraid to make a costly mistake. Ozolinsh played wide open, almost as if he didn't care if he did make a costly mistake.

There was one game back in...I think it was the 1993-94 season, and I think it was against Chicago. He made some absurdly aggressive play, like carrying the puck end-to-end and not scoring, but then continuing to play down low. The Sharks cycled, he stayed in the zone way inside the blueline, and ended up scoring the only goal in a 1-0. Kevin Constantine said that it was the only time he ever yelled, "NO! What are you doing? YEAH!" from the bench in his career.

TheDevilMadeMe 01-15-2013 05:25 PM

Very unique player. Brian Leetch is the closest I've seen stylistically, but Ozo's lack of effort defensively was closer to Housley than to Leetch.

Despite his defensive problems, Ozo was awesome in the 1996 playoffs, usually playing with Joe Sakic. When Ozo was out there, the Avs were pure run-and-gun, and they had the talent (and goaltending) to play that way. The last team like that that won a Cup. Tampa Bay and Carolina were both offense-first, but they didn't go all-out the way Ozolinsh did.

kmad 01-15-2013 05:31 PM

Fun fact: Ozolinsh was credited with the Martin Brodeur own-goal in the 2003 Cup finals.

quoipourquoi 01-15-2013 05:41 PM

He's the type of player who would have thrived in a different generation. Colorado played open enough for him to assert himself better than most teams would have, but some seasons there - and especially after he left - he was more of a liability. He was forced to play half of his own style and half of the style expected from a #1 defenseman, and it just didn't gel anymore because he hadn't developed the proper tool-set. Playing with Bure in Florida looked like a revival (19 points in 20 games), but then Bure got traded.

But there were nights when he was the most dangerous offensive player on Colorado. In 1995-96 and 1996-97 - and especially in those respective playoffs. Put him on a less run-and-gun team, and I don't expect the same results. Good instincts though; he pinched in very intelligently in his prime.

OrrNumber4 01-15-2013 10:19 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by quoipourquoi (Post 57643555)
He's the type of player who would have thrived in a different generation. Colorado played open enough for him to assert himself better than most teams would have, but some seasons there - and especially after he left - he was more of a liability. He was forced to play half of his own style and half of the style expected from a #1 defenseman, and it just didn't gel anymore because he hadn't developed the proper tool-set. Playing with Bure in Florida looked like a revival (19 points in 20 games), but then Bure got traded.

But there were nights when he was the most dangerous offensive player on Colorado. In 1995-96 and 1996-97 - and especially in those respective playoffs. Put him on a less run-and-gun team, and I don't expect the same results. Good instincts though; he pinched in very intelligently in his prime.

Excellent, excellent instincts. Just not something we see anymore. You still see the great-skating defensemen, but the instincts just aren't there anymore. Karlsson's probably the best in recent years.

Stephen 01-16-2013 12:27 AM

I guess he's a bit like the 90s version of Erik Karlsson without the Norris.

A guy like Oleg Tverdovsky was also a good offensive defenseman with great wheels from the same era. He had a few great years with 50+ points but then just fell off the map too. What happened there? He was supposed to be the next Zubov.

begbeee 01-16-2013 04:07 AM

Tverdovsky was good PMD too. Altough he won his cup with Devils and Canes, I will always remember him in Anaheim jersey. He was definitely a more complete player than Ozolinsh. Great skater too.

Elever 01-16-2013 10:49 AM

His career started to go down a bit after he left Colorado. The problem was that like all teams who expect greatness but then get stopped by a Dallas or Detroit...they made some stupid decisions afterwards and let go of certain players they shouldn't have including Ozolinsh.

Now they did fortunately win the cup in 2001 but I believe that if Ozolinsh had been the one on the team instead of say Skoula then it would've been better. I'm not sure how Skoula stayed as a starter on the team for so long, he's one of the worst regular dmen we had.

tony d 01-16-2013 11:06 AM

Ozolinsh was a very good offensive defenseman. To bad he let his personal demons get in the way from him being any better than what he was.

agentblack 01-16-2013 11:17 AM

One of my favorite D men ever! So much fun to watch. One of his most memorable plays was his backhand pass through the slot to Drury in OT against the Stars, guy took crazy chances.

RECsGuy* 01-16-2013 12:27 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by begbeee (Post 57665125)
Tverdovsky was good PMD too. Altough he won his cup with Devils and Canes, I will always remember him in Anaheim jersey. He was definitely a more complete player than Ozolinsh. Great skater too.

I can't decide which is funnier: you believing Oleg was better than Ozo at anything, or you mentioning his Stanley Cups as if he was a relevant cog in either one.

Frozen North 01-16-2013 12:48 PM

Ozolinsh would have been a perfect "Rover" back in the day when each team had a sixth skater out there.

Not sure if it was ever mentioned publicly, but IMO, Ozo really struggled after Sergei Zholtok's death. They were good friends since childhood, and it seemed like Ozo's personal and professional struggles really took off after Zholtok died in Latvia.

Theokritos 01-16-2013 01:13 PM

I guess most people around here are not aware of it, but Sandis Ozoliņ is actually still playing in the KHL.

ForsbergForever 01-16-2013 05:42 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Theokritos (Post 57678165)
I guess most people around here are not aware of it, but Sandis Ozoliņš is actually still playing in the KHL.

He's been productive too, still going strong at age 40. I'm glad he's gotten over his alcohol problem and revived his career.

I remember when he got traded from Florida to Anaheim right before the All-Star Game. The game was in Florida and the fans gave him a huge ovation when he was introduced. I remember noticing that he was already wearing a Ducks logo as the shoulder patch on the all-star jersey. It must be the only time a player has represented a team at the ASG before ever having played for them.

As far as comparisons I think of him as a poor-man's Sergei Gonchar. Gonchar has had a much better second half to his career but I think they both have a similar skill set.

OrrNumber4 01-17-2013 01:38 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ForsbergForever (Post 57693641)
He's been productive too, still going strong at age 40. I'm glad he's gotten over his alcohol problem and revived his career.

I remember when he got traded from Florida to Anaheim right before the All-Star Game. The game was in Florida and the fans gave him a huge ovation when he was introduced. I remember noticing that he was already wearing a Ducks logo as the shoulder patch on the all-star jersey. It must be the only time a player has represented a team at the ASG before ever having played for them.

As far as comparisons I think of him as a poor-man's Sergei Gonchar. Gonchar has had a much better second half to his career but I think they both have a similar skill set.

Perhaps controversially, I would say that Ozo's career could have been ever better than Gonchar's. Gonchar learned defense; Ozo was showing signs of doing that in SJ, but he started so late...no question to me that Ozolnish had more raw talent...

Actp 01-17-2013 05:18 AM

He was an oustanding raw talent and tremendously instinctive offensive player who was unafraid of making mistakes. As someone said, he would have made a good rover. I enjoyed watching him as you almost never see such fearlessness in a defenseman. He never really learned to play defense, except through anticipation and puck possession, but he was a joy to watch.

Nashology 01-17-2013 06:29 AM

One of the best offensive dmen of his generation. Karlsson like IMO. Some claimed they coined the term offenceman after him.

In San Jose and then in Colorado he was a 25 goal 60+ pt threat year in year out. An absolute magician out on the ice. Even in Carolina and Florida he played really well. In New York he suffered a bit but I really thought in his last stint with SJ a few years back he was going to stick. I thought he was a solid 2nd pairing guy. His defence had improved and he still put up 0.5 PPG.

His major problem throughout the years was that he was seen as a number 1 dman and he just couldn't and wouldn't work on his defense.

Ogie Goldthorpe 01-17-2013 02:32 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ForsbergForever (Post 57693641)
I remember when he got traded from Florida to Anaheim right before the All-Star Game. The game was in Florida and the fans gave him a huge ovation when he was introduced. I remember noticing that he was already wearing a Ducks logo as the shoulder patch on the all-star jersey. It must be the only time a player has represented a team at the ASG before ever having played for them.

There may have been others, but John Garrett played in the 1983 AS game as the Canucks' representative before playing a game as a Canuck. He nearly won the player of the game award too... until Gretzky scored 4 goals in the 3rd period.

OrrNumber4 01-17-2013 10:12 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Nashology (Post 57721507)
One of the best offensive dmen of his generation. Karlsson like IMO. Some claimed they coined the term offenceman after him.

In San Jose and then in Colorado he was a 25 goal 60+ pt threat year in year out. An absolute magician out on the ice. Even in Carolina and Florida he played really well. In New York he suffered a bit but I really thought in his last stint with SJ a few years back he was going to stick. I thought he was a solid 2nd pairing guy. His defence had improved and he still put up 0.5 PPG.

His major problem throughout the years was that he was seen as a number 1 dman and he just couldn't and wouldn't work on his defense.

To be fair, Ozolnish as far as I recall only had one season where he actually scored 25+ goals.

Puckgenius* 01-17-2013 10:32 PM

Ozo is todays Karlson.

Ozolinsh_27 01-17-2013 10:35 PM

A combination of personal issues and he also went several years without an ACL, I remember reading about it when he had his San Jose comeback but I had a heck of a time finding it for this thread.

I eventually found this, which credits the Star Ledger paper (NJ paper, I think?):

http://nhlstars.kulichki.net/players/ozolinsh/40.html


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