GDB 73: Hemsky's 'outburst' nothing to worry about

Jason Gregor
March 24 2009 02:20PM

hemskylockerroom

With ten games to go and sitting somewhat comfortably in 7th place, you would think life is grand yet everything is not rosy in Oilerville.

The Oilers best player is unhappy.

Ales Hemsky told Dan Barnes, “I’m just trying to do exactly what they want. I’m becoming a checker. We’re just doing what we have to do to win games. I’m not complaining. I just don’t feel as important as I did before when they were riding me.”

I spoke with Hemsky today and he reiterated that he is more frustrated than complaining.

“I was a little down. I want to play better and help the team make the playoffs. This is not a time to feel sorry for yourself. I have to focus on the last ten games and be better.

“I don’t feel that everything is right. Every player wants to be used more, that is why you play hockey. I don’t regret saying it. That is how I felt and I said it, but the bottom line is now is not the time for me to feel bad about my game.”

It might not be the best time to feel bad about your game, but I think it was the best time to voice his displeasure in how he is being used. For a long time you got the sense that Hemsky was happy being a good player, but that greatness wasn’t his main focus.

I wrote earlier this year that after a dominating performance v. Columbus that Hemsky was becoming great.

I spoke to him after that game and for the first time I felt he wanted to be great, and realized how much effort and hard work it would take. Hemsky’s skill set is top ten in the world, but his consistency and overall drive wasn’t.

His comments today and yesterday show me he wants to be that go-to-guy now, and rather than worry that he wants out, the organization should embrace his new attitude and channel it onto the ice.

His coach wasn’t that concerned.

“I find that players that are a little more difficult to manage, I’d rather have the difficulty managing players that will go play the game the hard way and go to the tough areas, than a guy who is super easy to manage and sometimes don’t go to those tough areas.

“I respect the way he plays. Character to me is how you react in certain situations on the ice. I’m totally supportive of the way he plays the game, and with the toughness that he plays the game.

“I’m not managing his ice time any differently lately. The last guy I really worry about confidence wise is him, because he is so skilled. He has been playing fine in my estimation. The way he has started the last few games, he has been outstanding. He hasn’t got anything offensively to show for it, but he has been playing fine.

“You look back after you hear the comments about the way he has been used, and I did sit him down in the Colorado game when we were up 7-1, and probably in hindsight maybe that should have been the time to play him, but I didn’t see him lacking confidence because he is still making plays.

“I support the player. I’ve had him for seven years. I understand where the player is coming from. These comments could be malicious at times, but I really don’t view it that way with him. You may think I’m just saying that because he is a good player and I’ve got to have a good relationship with my best player, but I’m not. I like the player and I always have. I owe him a lot, and he will have my support in this situation.”

So where do they go from here?

Hemsky and MacTavish had a conversation early in the year when Hemsky was struggling and he told the young Czech to just relax, and not worry about his stats because they would come. That convo happened before the Philly game, and then Hemsky went out and scored two highlight reel goals.

They spoke yesterday according to MacTavish and he stated it was good chat, and that he expects Hemsky to probably score tonight.

It is obvious that Hemsky is frustrated, and it is obvious the coach respects his game, but is it an easy situation to resolve? Yes. Play him more. Double shift him five-on-five, let him play the full two minutes on the PP if he wants.

I’m not sure how many of you have noticed, but Hemsky has gone down to block shots three times in the past two weeks. I asked him about it, and he said he admitted that for the first time he would be interested in a few PK shifts here and there.

Hemsky finally wants to be the guy. Now it is up to the coach to give him more responsibility.

Fourth line

Marc Pouliot draws in tonight for MacIntyre, and the Colossal Fossil starts again. Former Oiler Ty Conklin gets the nod for the Wings. Conklin came to Detroit to be the back up, but with Osgood’s season-long struggles continuing, Conklin might be their guy come playoff time.

Conklin is 24-9-2 with a 2.44 GAA and .911 SV%, compared to Osgood who is 24-6-7 with an ugly 3.18 GAA and woeful .884 SV%.

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One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
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#151 Amber McCormick
March 24 2009, 10:36PM
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@ Chris: Yours, mine, his, hers it's all the same.

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#152 Phil
March 24 2009, 10:51PM
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Hemsky hardly did anything out there tonight, way too much dangling going on, players trying to make too many pretty plays. Hemmer got almost totally shut down, they kept him to the perimeter and stick checked the f*ck outta him and you could see he got more and mor frustrated as the game went on.

Detroit, although being a far superior team, have been pretty bad defensively at times this year and have gotten only slightly above average goaltending from Conklin.

They completely shut Edmonton down in the final 2 periods. COMPLETELY. It was embarassing how difficult they made it for the Oilers. No shots from the point, slot was always covered... the only opportunities Edmonton seemed to generate came from behind the net & once or twice on the rush!

Moreau, Pisani, Cogs, Pouliot, Brodziak, Kotalik were erased and became invisible from the 2nd period on... Moreau is the captain, he did absolutely nothing noticeable, I thought he was scratched there for awhile.

What is with these guys... most fragile, Jekyll & Hyde bunch of players I've ever seen in my life.

Oh well it is Detroit... but F*CK! They should/woulda/coulda gotten at least a point out of it tonight.

On the whole I DID THINK they played as disciplined and steady a game as you could hope for against a squad like the Red Wings.

/Rant

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#153 Phil
March 24 2009, 10:52PM
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And by the way, Horc was one of the best, if not THE best Oiler out there tonight, again. His game seems to be coming around towards the playoffs. Had a solid game all around I thought.

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#154 oilersordeath
March 24 2009, 11:11PM
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Are we suprised we lost?? The score should have been 7-2 Detroit! If your Detroit you cant help but laugh we the Oilers are coming down on the rush because you know they cant puck handle, pass, even shoot!! AAAAAHHHH this team kills me. How is it we dont even have 1 player near the caliber of a Hossa, Datsuk, Zetterberg!!

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#155 David S
March 24 2009, 11:36PM
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oilersordeath wrote:

How is it we dont even have 1 player near the caliber of a Hossa, Datsuk, Zetterberg!!

'Cause guys like that want to go somewhere they might have a good chance at winning the cup. We end up either overpaying the crap out of longshots or trying to grow our own. Go back to sentence 1 - repeat.

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#156 Archaeologuy
March 25 2009, 09:04AM
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@ Ogden Brother: That list was made up of people that many fans (and management) thought had underachieved here under MacT. You asked who was underachieving, I answered. If you disagree with the list then fine. But a quick poll of ON i'm sure would reveal that many of the names on that "random" list underachieved in the minds of the fans. Whether there is clinical proof they underachieved doesnt matter. The general consensus is that they didnt reach full potential. It isnt an easily measurable quantity, i accept that, but to deny it completely doesnt make any sense. Sometimes the player's previous production is not the bar for achievement. We expected more from Hemsky every year, we knew he had more to give. We knew that he could score more, and we expected it. And when he didnt deliver we felt he was underachieving. Thats the reality. That, is my point.

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#157 Colin-FMNF
March 25 2009, 09:04AM
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Is anyone still foolish enough to think we have a shot if we play these guys in the post season?

In any event try to ride a 1 goal lead for 2 periods is fing ridiculous, if they had played the same game they played in the first for the whole game they could have won, utter BS, part of the MacT philosophy.

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#158 rindog
March 25 2009, 09:19AM
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@ Phil: Phil wrote:

And by the way, Horc was one of the best, if not THE best Oiler out there tonight,

I wonder what game you were watching???

Please explain?

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#159 Chris
March 25 2009, 09:25AM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

the odd fluke added by hindsight is beyond laughable.

Read the blogs from March 4th on... Willis, myself, several others were amazed that MacT decided to play Kotalik with Hemsky on the left side. Anyone, and I mean ANYONE, who took five minutes to research Kotalik knew that this simply wouldn't work... and it didn't. This isn't hindsight. This is regular fans watching their coach make another stupid decision, and then waiting too long (4 losses) to make a correction. I'll admit I'm just an ordinary fan. I am NOT qualified to be an NHL head coach....

So if it's soooooo EASY for ME to pick up on these mistakes... Why is MacT still coaching? It's like with Erik Cole. If you spend ten minutes watching his hi-lights on U-Tube you will see that his signature move is to drive the net FROM THE RIGHT SIDE using his body to protect the puck. MacT had the entire preseason to see what anyone who watches tape already knew... Cole is WAY mor comfortable on the right side. So naturally MacT puts him on the left... and leaves Cole there till his confidence is shot... then replaces Cole with Penner, fresh from the doghouse, and on and on.

MacT is a gifted tactician. He schooled Babcock in the 2006 playoff series against Detroit. MacT's brand of defensively responsible hockey has won this franchise more than it's share of games over the years based on the players he has been given. I just think, now that the pressure to succeed has increased, MacT hasn't responded well to the pressure. He has thrown several players under the bus, played favorites to a fault, regularly put players in positions where they are unlikly to succeed, and most importantly, doesn't seem to communicate with ANYONE. How many times have you heard a player say, "Well I haven't spoke to MacT but I know what I need to do..."? (Pouliot after being re-inserted into the lineup last night; O'Sullivan after his arrival... pretty much every player has said something like this over the course of THIS season... listen to the interviews and read between the lines)

I was a MacT guy for years... but he is having a bad season... A really bad season.

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#160 Ogden Brother
March 25 2009, 09:42AM
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Chris wrote:

Ogden Brother wrote: the odd fluke added by hindsight is beyond laughable. Read the blogs from March 4th on… Willis, myself, several others were amazed that MacT decided to play Kotalik with Hemsky on the left side. Anyone, and I mean ANYONE, who took five minutes to research Kotalik knew that this simply wouldn’t work… and it didn’t. This isn’t hindsight. This is regular fans watching their coach make another stupid decision, and then waiting too long (4 losses) to make a correction. I’ll admit I’m just an ordinary fan. I am NOT qualified to be an NHL head coach…. So if it’s soooooo EASY for ME to pick up on these mistakes… Why is MacT still coaching? It’s like with Erik Cole. If you spend ten minutes watching his hi-lights on U-Tube you will see that his signature move is to drive the net FROM THE RIGHT SIDE using his body to protect the puck. MacT had the entire preseason to see what anyone who watches tape already knew… Cole is WAY mor comfortable on the right side. So naturally MacT puts him on the left… and leaves Cole there till his confidence is shot… then replaces Cole with Penner, fresh from the doghouse, and on and on. MacT is a gifted tactician. He schooled Babcock in the 2006 playoff series against Detroit. MacT’s brand of defensively responsible hockey has won this franchise more than it’s share of games over the years based on the players he has been given. I just think, now that the pressure to succeed has increased, MacT hasn’t responded well to the pressure. He has thrown several players under the bus, played favorites to a fault, regularly put players in positions where they are unlikly to succeed, and most importantly, doesn’t seem to communicate with ANYONE. How many times have you heard a player say, “Well I haven’t spoke to MacT but I know what I need to do…”? (Pouliot after being re-inserted into the lineup last night; O’Sullivan after his arrival… pretty much every player has said something like this over the course of THIS season… listen to the interviews and read between the lines) I was a MacT guy for years… but he is having a bad season… A really bad season.

All I care about is results vs expectations, he could have the team skate on their hands as far as I care, as long as they do as good or better then what should be expected from what he has to work with.

To think

Cole/Vis/Reddox/Strud in

and

Stoll/Pit/Green/Torres out

moves a team from 9th to 5th or better is....well a stretch to say the least.

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#161 Chris
March 25 2009, 10:06AM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

All I care about is results vs expectations,

Were expectations too high... Probably. In the offseson all we heard from the press was something like: "With the aquisitins of Cole and Visnovski the Oilers are expected too...." Well Cole is gone and Visnovsky is hurt. The Oilers lineup right now isn't (on paper) measurably better than the group that finished 9th last season and had been picked by many to finish 13th. I get it. I still think MacT, as coach, is having problems adapting to a puck possession style... but lacks the personnel to be the crash-bang forechecking team he's used to managing... Faced with, perhaps unrealistic expectations (expectations he helped create); Mact has made many, many bizarre personnel/lineup decisions that have cost the Oilers points. Would a different coach also make mistakes... Absolutely! Has MacT done some good things... Of course! (His faith in Roli sure has worked out!) I still feel that it is time, however, to find a more suitable coach this offseason, for an evolving team. The key is to find the right guy for the Job...

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#162 Chris
March 25 2009, 10:09AM
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Wow. Please forgive my typing/spelling...

w(h)ere, aquisiti(o)ns, etc...

I've got to start editing BEFORE I post. Sorry.

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#163 Oilersordeath
March 25 2009, 10:23AM
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I'm not sure MacT knows in order to have puck possesion team you have to have guys that can handle the FU__KING PUCK!!! And players that dont stop moving there feet. Hemmer can handle the puck but as soon as he get bumped the slightest bit he looses it! He needs to get way stronger before he can be the player we all want him to be. Look at how strong Datsuk is on the puck Jesus Christ! I didnt see him get knocked of the puck one time!! He's even smaller than Hemmer isnt he?

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#164 Cory
March 25 2009, 10:29AM
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@ Chris:Tom Renney!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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#165 Chris
March 25 2009, 10:55AM
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@ Cory:

We were laughing about that at work... trade MacT to the Rangers for Tom Renny...

The change in scenery would do them both some good... ~Besides, we need someone new to complain about~

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#166 Chris
March 25 2009, 11:01AM
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I'm glad to have gotten all that off my chest... You have to forgive me, I'm new to the fire MacT bandwagon.(My final breaking point was the mishandling of the trade deadline aquisitions)...

Although I still believe a coaching change shouldn't be made till the offseason.

-FM(TS)F (This Summer)

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#167 Ender
March 25 2009, 08:28PM
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Honestly, I think he's just pissy that Gagner got a hatty before he did.

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