I think is safe to say that, throughout the rich history of the Toronto Maple Leafs and amidst goaltending legends like Johnny Bower, Turk Broda, Jacques Plante, King Clancy, Harry Lumley, Mike Palmateer and Terry Sawchuk, never before has the franchise boasted a rapping Swedish goalie amongst its puck stoppers.
But with the signing of 21-year old Mark Owuya to a two-year entry level contract, the Leafs now have a rapper and Swedish Idol contestant among their net minder depth chart, not to mention another tremendous goalie nickname (his rap handle is ‘Mark in Da Park’) to boast alongside ‘Optimus Reim’, ‘The Monster’ and, for now anyway, ‘Jiggy’.
The English-speaking Owuya was born in the town of Huddinge, Sweden to a Ugandan father and Russian mother. In addition to tending goal for Djurgarden of the SEL, he has carved out a music career that includes his own website, www.markindapark.com, and a recent appearance on Swedish Idol. Granted, my Swedish is a bit rusty (my knowledge of the language consists, primarily, of IKEA product names and watching the Muppets’ Swedish chef), but his skills don’t seem too popular with the judges here.
As for his other passion, Owuya can kindly be referred to as a work in progress. His silver medal at the 2009 World Junior Championships speaks well of his play in the clutch, as does his 2.18 GAA and .927 save percentage last season in the SEL. However, European hockey prospects website www.eliteprospects.com opened their analysis by calling him “a butterfly goalie with a technique that is not very developed nor pretty”.
In other words, those rap videos may be the closest that most Leaf fans get to seeing Owuya for some time to come.
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Written by Ben Fisher