Pat Quinn: the truth? You can't handle the truth

Robin Brownlee
November 20 2009 05:18PM

So, I wonder how Pat Quinn's honesty will play in the Edmonton Oilers dressing room, given all the trouble former coach Craig MacTavish talked himself into last season by speaking his mind.

I'm not sure, but Quinn made some less-than-flattering remarks about Ales Hemsky and Mike Comrie today during his availability with reporters after practice at Rexall Place.

Last season under MacTavish, the kind of criticism Quinn offered up today was characterized time after time as "MacTavish throwing Penner under the bus" or "MacTavish throwing Nilsson under the bus" and blah, blah, blah.

People who latch on to catch-all phrases that mutate into inaccurate or meaningless jargon, people who say "at the end of the day" or "methinks," should be thrown under the bus or backed over by my Navigator, even, but I digress.

Telling it straight

Quinn was praising the practice habits and work ethic of journeyman Dean Arsene today. Then, he turned his attention to Hemsky in a question posed by Mark Connolly of CBC, who noted that associate coach Tom Renney had engaged in an animated discussion with No. 83 this morning.

Quinn said:

"Again, as a coach, you try to have... Our job is to help these guys get better. I mean, it really is. When you're putting in an effort to try to help them be better and some guys don't seem to value that effort that you're making because they have their own habits or maybe they don't need to practice that hard, they think in their minds game day is tomorrow, I'll turn it on tomorrow.

"They're the guys who often kid themselves. Yes, they've got great talent, but, you know what? We've missed the playoffs two bloody years in a row and five of the last eight, so, at the end of the day [oops], you've got to start saying, 'Well, wait a minute. Talent is what?' Talent is part of it, but we need a bigger package. How do you get the bigger package? Well, you ask people to work."

Of course, Quinn meant to say "three straight years" out of the playoffs, but that was probably just a slip on his part. I'm sure he knows it's three years -- I'll be sure to remind him in the hope of generating even better quotes. I'm also intrigued about getting that bigger package, but...

While Hemsky has been productive, albeit streaky, this season, he's no workhorse at practice. He's off the ice, showered and gone long before the grunts even get into the dressing room. In all the years I've covered the Oilers, only Joni Pitkanen got gone faster.

On Comrie

As for Comrie, who is out with mononucleosis, his name came up in a discussion about using Penner in shootouts. Quinn, to understate, wasn't impressed with a move Comrie made during the shootout in Ottawa -- Junior B stuff, where he tipped the toe of his blade down toward the puck before letting a shot go.

Quinn said:

"I don't feel uncomfortable using him [Penner] there. On that particular night, if I'm not mistaken, I'd watched Comrie turn his stick over and screw around in Ottawa. He wasn't going to get a chance again, I guarantee you that. If you want to clown around on my time, then, you know..."

For my money, Quinn calling it like he sees it is not only refreshing, but a godsend to reporters, who too often have to try to spin cliches and pat answers into something worth repeating.

While MacTavish was guilty of cutting the same cows out of the herd too often, namely Penner and Nilsson, and seemed to be doing so out of a mounting sense of frustration rather than as a way to get a meaningful message across, Quinn doesn't come across like that.

I'm guessing Hemsky and Comrie won't like what was said today, but too bad. It's not like they've been singled out time after time, as MacTavish fell into the habit of doing with Penner and Nilsson.

The Oilers are 9-10-3, so there's lots of criticism to go around. From where I sit, the old coach is calling it as he sees it and dishing out that criticism with an even hand.

-- Listen to Robin Brownlee every Wednesday and Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#51 Homie
November 20 2009, 10:25PM
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Finally, the coach calls out Hemsky. The guy is an all world talent and been the Oilers undisputed offensive leader for years, but that doesn't make him immune from criticism. The way he handles this will tell us all a lot about his character. He should have been an PPG+ player a few years ago with his talent.

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#53 Jeremy
November 20 2009, 10:48PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

Cancerous pretender? You're making a quantum leap from being a less-than-intense practice player to that? You'd rather have, say, Marc Pouliot or somebody else who works harder but will never be as good as Hemsky no matter what? I think not.

If Hemsky had the work ethic of some lesser players to go with all of his natural ability, yes, he'd be an elite player. The fact he doesn't falls well short of making him a cancerous pretender.

Holla

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#54 Shapeman
November 20 2009, 10:56PM
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Where is Hatecoff when you need to transfer a little hate off of Hemsky over to Horcoff?

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#55 Eddie Shore
November 20 2009, 11:47PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

Quinn likes a lot about Brule's game and is quick to compliment him on rounding into a good player.

Don't get fixated on ice time, it's just one indicator. You need to look at when and how a coach uses a player to assess how that coach views that player.

Brule was thrown in over his head too fast once in his career already with Columbus and it almost ruined him.

I'm aware of this Robin. I'm not fixated on ice time at all. I was trying to make a point that TOI with this team doesn't really tell us anything because Quinn lets the next line leave the bench shift after shift. A little too much if you ask me.

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#56 Eddie Shore
November 20 2009, 11:51PM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

I love it, after all the whining the last couple of years about MacT being "too mean" to his players after years of frustration, it's entertaining to see that same faction quiet as Quinn lays into guys after 20 games.

Said it before but: Props to Chris for calling Quinns arrival being harder on the skill guys while the majority here were jumping up and down waiting for the grinders to get their lashes.

Sticking with my earlier call that Hemsky will be traded within the next 12 months (or I guess 10 now)

I have a problem with this. Who said MacT was "too mean"? People questioned his antics but I don't recall him being called mean. Everyone on this site knows that you thought MacT was the second coming of Christ but lets not get carried away. Secondly, I don't really think Quinn was laying into the guys. He was asked a question and he was honest in his answers. That is much different than laying into players in my books.

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#57 Death Metal Nightmare
November 20 2009, 11:51PM
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Quinn is a turd. unless he sticks around here for a GOOD chunk of time (3 years minimum) he's nothing more than a Fake Ass John Madden for a bunch of poopy pants hockey players. every game he comes with the criticism: blah, blah, blah. "this guy sucked tonight. this guy doesnt practice how we want even though were not breaking bad habits of players who are twice as crappy players as the player were whining about."

honesty? seriously, if anyone got truly honest on this roster it would be shredded to the bone. which wouldnt take much since the metaphorical muscle of this team is a 120 pound wimp.

"oh no, Hemsky isnt practicing. at least Mr. Muscles Horcoff and Moreau are absolutely useless close to every night and theyre the hardest F-ing workers we've ever seen!"

lame. working hard for crap results just makes you a moron and unskilled at what you do.

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#58 Eddie Shore
November 20 2009, 11:51PM
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I've said my piece, I'm off to bed. Goodnight nation. Sweet dreams.

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#59 David S
November 21 2009, 12:40AM
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Quinn is a turd.

The team sucks.

Hemsky is a loser.

...We're all doomed I tell you. DOOMED!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NmZRDUO1wGQ

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#60 Kotton
November 21 2009, 03:54AM
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@Hatecoff

Christ.

Does it hurt to be that stupid?

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#61 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
November 21 2009, 07:16AM
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Kotton wrote:

Christ.

Does it hurt to be that stupid?

im sure his pain is numbed by the constant day dreams of dirty carnies giving back rubs

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#62 Wedge
November 21 2009, 07:32AM
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Wow! After catching up on all these posts I feel like going out and kicking puppies and not holding the door for an old lady.

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#63 easymoney
November 21 2009, 07:32AM
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Wow im not the only one who is not a huge hemmer fan around these parts.But one thing to remember is that he is one of the steals on this team for what we are paying him.I would love to see him traded for an equal talent with alot more heart and grit but i just dont see it happening with all the salary cap issues most teams have these days .Either way i will settle for another win tonite .

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#64 Wedge
November 21 2009, 07:45AM
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I think everyone wants Tambo to swing his magic wand but I just don't see it happening this year. Really our only hope is that the current players start to play better. All we need is 1 or 2 players like O'sullivan or Gagner etc. to have some luck and start having some goals go in. I know it is hard people, but it is called cheering - not hating.

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#66 VK63
November 21 2009, 09:21AM
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Librarian Mike wrote:

...and so the 'Hate Wheel' spins and comes to a rest on 83...

good thing #19 missed the chest protector, im sure I saw a likeness being tied to a stake. Perhaps its in storage for another time.

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#67 Ogden Brother
November 21 2009, 09:21AM
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@ Mark

Ha-ha, theirs always one guy that jumps on the band wagon and takes it way too far.

Critize Hemsky? Sure, just like alot of players on this team he needs to work harder/be better if theirs any hope of getting off the bubble.

Trade him? Ya maybe, If he's part of the package to bring back a true super star then giver. If he's used to get equivalent talent that will benifit our team more Hemmer currently does, get it done.

"Send him packing"? The hight of delusion, what little offense the team does have up from will take a major hit that likely wont be filled for years.

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#68 Ogden Brother
November 21 2009, 09:25AM
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@ Gunner

Their was a pile of people on MacT for calling people out, the mantra - "would you work for a boss that did that to you?"

I don't think MacT was the saviour, I felt he was a competent NHL coach that had a bubble roster...which some deluded themselves into thinking was better then that. What I took issue with was the people that thought he was incompetent, or an "idiot" to quote a majority of them.

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#69 Librarian Mike
November 21 2009, 09:36AM
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@Ogden Brother

While I felt MacT's departure was overdue, it is true that it's far more common for players to make a coach look good than vice versa.

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#71 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
November 21 2009, 09:44AM
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@Robin Brownlee

That's true of most coaches, I think. Most coaches have a shelf life with any specific team. Everybody gets comfortable doing what they're doing after awhile.

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#72 Ogden Brother
November 21 2009, 09:47AM
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@ Librarian Mike

Agreed 100% on both points.

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#73 Milhouse
November 21 2009, 09:50AM
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It's about time you showed some respect to Quinn, Homer. All you have been doing is ragging on him since training camp. I know you were a MacT supporter and loved his witty quotes. but come out of the dark ages. You want people to respect your work? You should respect other people and your peers. Even on the radio your voice has that "the world owes me" attitude.Your anger at the world has to stop. You b*tch and complain about other people and where they are now, well it could have been yours if you get an attitude change, maybe try medication? Grow up Homer or soon the Simpsons will be cancelled.

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#74 Ogden Brother
November 21 2009, 09:51AM
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@ Brownlee

"the job broke him down over time"

"frustration got the better of him and clouded his approach and judgment"

Probably the best way to sum up the situation. Those on the inside probably got glimpses of that earlier. But for the rest of us, that really came to fruition during the last 70 games or so last year.

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#75 Bob Cobb
November 21 2009, 09:53AM
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I'm just going to say that some people need to learn how to spell and how to gramatically correctly compose a sentence, Im talking to you Hatecoff. I seriously hope that all that incoherent crap was just a case of drunk typing because I didn't possibly think anyone could be that stupid, than again I do know alot of Flames fans.

The core on this team needs to be changed. The core should be Souray, Hemsky, Gagner, Penner, Cogliano, Smid, Grebeshkov and Visnovsky. They have the skill and the young guys like Jacque, Stone, Brule and Stortini that can provide energy. Get rid of the tweeners, guys that dont really bring anything at either end, guys like Moreau, Pisani, Pouliot, Strudwick, they are too old, well not Pouliot, he just plain sucks.

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#76 Fred Alberta oilers
November 21 2009, 10:01AM
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Hemsky has almost a point per game with a bum shoulder, which will require surgery.Without him this team goes absolutely nowhere.After CP left I figured this team would miss the playoffs for five years.Oh Dr.Reid needs to hang em up.There are options to using the knife.ALBERTA Oilers for life

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#77 deepoil
November 21 2009, 10:14AM
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@Robin Brownlee

As per your musing, this team has bad contracts, are you going to TWITTER this now ?

Is it safe to safe that Tambellini had his butt tied to Lowe's mistakes before he even started... promotion by extraction... right.

The next time Lowe goes on the radio and calls someone a moron (his words).... an old saying is so on target... don't point fingers, as there is always more pointing back...

Two coaches employed by pharmacy company that is hampered by injuries and the flu... it appears that Cold FX is not enough.

By my calculations, the Oilers have two - three more seasons of missing the playoffs, but stubbing their toe with no lottery pick, reaching 9th or 10th place to hurt themselves longterm in the draft. This is due to non performance, bad contracts, and cap mismanagement. Change the coach, add two new voices, and you still no chicken salad.

Any of the contracts, I mean players make you get excited here ???

Hemsky - looked like value (not a steal) at the time, but it looks like he is more frustrating than performing - trade hemsky calls to start appearing MORE often, as his contract rises to 4 and 5 million, while his performance continues to be "adequate".

Horcoff - influence from the bat cave, second line centre earning first line dollars.

Pisani - 2006 hangover signing, due to health and injury issues in the past, the next team that signs him will be under $1.0 mm

Khabibulin - wall today, but over 40 at the end of the deal with JDD 4 years older - conflict here, can't move K at the end of the deal.

Nillson - WTF - MacT was benching this kid, claiming lack of work ethic, while Lowe is signing him to more term, GM not communicating, on his own cloud.

Penner - break even on the overall issues the past three years, but why would you give up the draft choices on potential, when the free market was an option - see comment below.

Free Agency Failure - maybe the best deals are the ones that evaporate and where free agents get matched (vanek), or when the player Nylander backs out of his deal (as lowe... text's stauffer - done deal from the highest authority - you didn't hear it from me)- egg on face.

Cap Issues - looking into next year, the Oil are already at 45mm, based on a high priced defence and over paid forwards - the perfect storm is brewing for Tambellini without trading a D man. Trouble is how many trades are made when dollars ARE NOT MATCHED UP. As per team 1260, Bob McKenzie has stopped following any trade rumors, as trades don't happen until the deadline, when the salary is a diminished factor.

Any Oiler fan would pray for three - four seasons of lottery picks, while the salary issues remove themeselves, except for the next 5 seasons of Horcoff, almost reads like a farmers almanac, continued drought.

Standings - worse or better than it looks, Ducks have two games in hand. That might be a good thing towards finishing in the lottery.

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#78 Eddie Shore
November 21 2009, 10:26AM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

@ Gunner

Their was a pile of people on MacT for calling people out, the mantra - "would you work for a boss that did that to you?"

I don't think MacT was the saviour, I felt he was a competent NHL coach that had a bubble roster...which some deluded themselves into thinking was better then that. What I took issue with was the people that thought he was incompetent, or an "idiot" to quote a majority of them.

I never thought he was an idiot but I know alot of "fans" did. I did question some of the things he was doing but that's the nature of the business. After all this we are left with basically another "bubble roster" for Quinn to work with.

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#79 Jonathan Willis
November 21 2009, 10:44AM
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@Hatecoff

I've seen enough. I think most everyone else has too.

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#80 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
November 21 2009, 11:05AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

@Hatecoff

I've seen enough. I think most everyone else has too.

Thanks, JW.

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#81 rindog
November 21 2009, 11:05AM
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@Robin Brownlee

Is is a proven fact that breaking a sweat in practice makes you play better in games?

What is it about Hemsky's game that we are actually picking apart?

As I see it, his role is to create offense for our team without being a defensive liability.

- He has a 1.11ppga (91 point pace). - He is +6 (on a team that gives up goals like crazy). - He averages almost 3 shots on net a game (not to mention attempted shots). - He gets less icetime than any of the other comparible producers in the NHL. - He leads the team in PP goals. - 2nd on the tem in goals. - Leads the team in assists - Is 4th on the team in blocked shots for forwards. - He has only been held pointless in 6 games (Penner-11, Crosby-10, Iginla-6, etc)

When Quinn first came here (I can't find the quote) but he stated that players have to be treated differently in some regards. He said that they all have to show up to practices, etc on time - but when it comes to the way they are treated (they can't be treated equally).

I think ragging on Hemsky is the least of our concerns.

Again, I repeat....

Does being the hardest worker in practice equate to anything in a game?

Exhibit #1....SHAWN HORCOFF!!!

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#82 HockeyBuzz
November 21 2009, 11:12AM
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Hi, I'm Julie and I love C@CK!

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#83 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
November 21 2009, 11:15AM
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@rindog

I think you've answered your own question here.

You can't treat players the same because not all players are equally capable. I don't think anyone's disputing the fact that Hemsky could be an elite-level player if he applied himself, worked harder in practice, and acknowledged the aspects of his game that are lacking. This allows him to improve his game for the betterment of the team as a whole.

Complacency is a bad thing in a competitive environment regardless of the numbers a player puts up.

The point is, Ovechkin would be underachieving if he only scored 40 goals in a year, despite the fact that those numbers might make him the best player on most teams in the league.

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#84 rindog
November 21 2009, 11:24AM
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@Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

Is Hemsky complacent on the ice in a game?

Every coach wishes that every player would practice like it is game 7 all the time. The fact is - that is not realistic.

Just like it is not realistic that our management doesn't work on the things they need to improve (face offs, PK, top line scorer, etc).

I would rather spend my time focusing on the problems of this team rather than criticizing the one or two things that are actually working for us???

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#85 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
November 21 2009, 11:38AM
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The only thing I've seen Hemsky change about his game this year is possibly that he shoots a little more than he used to. I'm not sure if the stats back that up, but that's what I've noticed.

If Hemsky is hanging onto the puck too long on the power play, why hasn't he changed in that regard? Seems to me it'd be something the PP coach would bring up.

Note the fact that Quinn is not jumping all over Penner, because his production is a direct result of a change in attitude and an increase in effort.

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#86 Jason Gregor
November 21 2009, 12:04PM
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cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan wrote:

gregor?

I never had a skateboard, played Dungeons and Dragons or was par to the debate team. Why the hell would I have a hackey sac. And I don't do weed...can't inhale...schrooms...now and then..

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#87 JackBauer
November 21 2009, 12:11PM
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I cant remember who it was, but I read/heard a story that someone was talking to Hemsky on the side and asked him about how he felt his practice habits (or lack of them) compared to those of Pavel Datsuk (who has some of the best practice habits in the game)

Hemsky responded by calling him something short of fat. Hemsky is a headcase prima donna. And while we are better with him than without him, he will never ever turn into the star we want/need him to be.

A borderline point a game with 20 goals is about as good as we can hope for.

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#88 Librarian Mike
November 21 2009, 12:21PM
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@JackBauer

Hemsky is a headcase prima donna. And while we are better with him than without him, he will never ever turn into the star we want/need him to be. A borderline point a game with 20 goals is about as good as we can hope for.

~And we all know guys like that are a dime a dozen...~

Edit: I agree with the sentiment that we need to accept that Hemsky is probably not going to exceed 20 goals/70 points a season. While he makes me crazy with his half-boards spinorama that surprises no opposing players anymore, he is still the best player on our team so I'm not sure piling on him is the best idea.

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#89 Ogden Brother
November 21 2009, 12:43PM
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@ Deep Oil

"bad contracts" "bad contracts" "bad contracts"

Who would you say most felt were the 2 most highly desired UFA's this summer? I think it's safe to say Hossa/Bowmester were 1/2 or at worst in that range.

Who did those two teams sign with?

Two teams with as tight or tighter cap situations as the Oilers.

The cap is not the issue people, the inability (or reluctance) to work around it is.

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#91 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
November 21 2009, 01:14PM
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@Robin Brownlee

It -is- pretty obvious. I also don't understand how people can complain about the team's lack of leading by example (mostly by analyzing thecaptainethanmoreau and he late-game antics), but go on to defend Hemsky when it comes to dogging it in practice.

Hemsky may not be a born leader. From what I understand, he's slightly introverted. Despite that fact, he could be extremely valuable to the team if he were to show the rookies that if they put in effort like him, they might see results like he does.

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#92 HansBaurMesserschmittWatson
November 21 2009, 01:18PM
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here is hemskys take from ealier about the renney and quinn comments to him and the media yesterday.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNTw0hewGPk

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#93 Tyler
November 21 2009, 01:18PM
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I'm also intrigued about getting that bigger package, but...

Are there times that you enjoy the somewhat looser restrictions of writing on the internet Robin?

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#94 Dan the Man
November 21 2009, 01:21PM
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Wasn't Gretzky always one of the hardest working guys at practice?

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#95 jake
November 21 2009, 01:21PM
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Quinn's comments toward 83 don't concern me as much as a possible negative response from Hemsky (in terms of effort, attitude) do (ie....backfiring). I think we all want Hemsky to be a leader, as well as being an elite level performer. Is it unrealistic to want this from Hemsky? Those traits that make a good leader (effort, positive attitude, no quit, team first, etc) would, if he demonstrated/developed them, elevate Hemsky's game to that "next level" we all talk about. My $0.02 .

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#96 HansBaurMesserschmittWatson
November 21 2009, 01:27PM
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@Robin Brownlee

robin, dont you think they should trade hemsky already ?

they aint doing nothing for him and it appears he isnt doing nothing for them. why are they sleeping together for so long with no plans of starting a family ?

krs-one once told me during the obama deception movie........."if you're fries are always cold at burger king, you should ask to speak to a manager."..................my team is cold and it sucks. where is kevin lowe ?

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#98 JackBauer
November 21 2009, 01:51PM
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I think its a pretty easy concept to grasp. Was Gretzky the hardest working guy in practice? I have no idea, but I have heard stories of him shooting pucks after practice for 2 hours.

Two stories that I can recall that stand out in addition to the one I told earlier.

Two years ago when Sidney Crosby had a penalty shot in overtime against the Canucks and couldnt put it close up top shelf. The next practice he grabbed a bucket of pucks and sat at the crease and practiced roofing it. Micheal Jordan would do the same thing. Great players do that.

Hemsky says he wants to be a leader on this team, then why does he act the way he does?

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#99 Eddie Shore
November 21 2009, 01:59PM
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@JackBauer

The difference is that kind of stuff defines who superstars are..Gretzky, Crosby, Jordan. Hemsky is not and never will be same type of athlete as those mentioned so expecting him to just grasp this concept after, and I'm assuming here, 20 years of getting by on his skill without really applying himself in practice is a stretch.

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