Hemsky turns 26: Primetime

Robin Brownlee
August 13 2009 09:35AM

hemsky-birthday

With just 26 candles on his birthday cake and six NHL seasons on his resume, Ales Hemsky somehow makes whiners of even the most ardent fan of the Edmonton Oilers.

"Sure, he's good, but he should be better," and "When will he take it to the next level?" Thankfully, the once tried-and-true "He should shoot more" has pretty much been put to rest. Still, the passionate-and-seldom-satisfied Oiler fan grumbles, like it's birthright.

Better? Sure, it's possible. The next level? What, exactly, is the "next level," aside from overused jargon? I'm always amused, given that Hemsky is only now entering the prime years of his NHL career, that "very good" somehow isn't good enough when it comes to No. 83.

Outside of a couple of examples -- Ilya Kovalchuk and, arguably, Jason Spezza come to mind -- the Oilers couldn't have done much better at the 2001 Entry Draft than taking a baby-faced kid named Hemsky from the Hull Olympiques 13th overall. Edmonton's scouting staff hasn't been more right in the last 20 years.

Still, the critics bray.

By the numbers

In six seasons since the Oilers called his name, Hemsky has produced 93 goals and 238 assists for 331 points through 421 regular season games and 6-11-17 in 30 playoff games.

In terms of regular season numbers, only Kovalchuk, with 297-260-557 in 545 games, and Spezza, with 148-270-418 in 404 games, have been more prolific.

In his last four seasons, Hemsky has tallied 66, 71, 53 and 77 points. The 53 points, by the way, came in just 64 games in 2006-07. I'm not thinking chopped liver when I see those numbers, especially considering Hemsky has played every minute of his NHL career on the watch of offensive guru Craig MacTavish and without linemates to match his skill.

Numbers aside, there aren't more than a dozen or so players who can lift fans out of their seats the way Hemsky does when he starts dangling with the puck. Of course, that's part of the problem -- more than a "dozen or so" players produce more points than Hemsky, spawning arguments he's style over substance. Look at Hemsky hang fire. There must be more, right?

A bargain

The big bow on all of it is Hemsky still has three years left on a contract that will pay him $4.4 million this season. He's a $4.1 million cap hit on the deal Kevin Lowe inked him to three years ago. By comparison, Kovalchuk will earn $7.5 million this season and Spezza gets $8 million.

From where I sit, all the above makes it utterly ridiculous that some fans talk about trading Hemsky because he'll never get any better, or because a numbers guy can come up with less-than-flattering statistics about how he's propped up defensively by Shawn Horcoff. Or because he complained about wanting to play a bigger role last season. How dare he.

All I know, as Hemsky celebrates his 26th birthday in the Czech Republic after a summer of tooling around in his Ferrari, is he's a magnificent talent and the best player the Oilers have by a fair margin. For my money, even if Hemsky doesn't "get better," he's not going anywhere during the term of this contract.

Instead of bitching about what Hemsky isn't, fans should be applauding what he is. That, and demanding that GM Steve Tambellini get the birthday boy some help.

-- Listen to Robin Brownlee every 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 Wyseguy
August 13 2009, 11:36AM
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yeah, I'm a Hemsky fan. But I can't bring myself to buy a Hemsky jersey, somehow it feels a little gay. Not sure if it's because he looks a little feminen or because his name sounds a little like hummer.

Yes, this is how my mind works

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#52 typol99
August 13 2009, 11:52AM
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absolutely..Hemmer is a top notch player with no linemates to match his skill.well said. number 83 is our offense and all the oiler fans that dont like him.. purhaps take alook at his stats and pay attention when he has the puck..watch his speed and puck possesion dominance.. any hockey fan that knows hockey.. cant argue that he he is top 20 in skill in the league and has potential for a heart.. yes a HEART TROPPHY.. given the right linemates..GO OIL GO>>

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#53 Oilersordeath
August 13 2009, 11:52AM
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Look at how long it took someone like Naslund to finally break through, I think Hemmer is close and I think last year he was shooting the puck more than the previous years. Personaly I'd like to see Hemmer with O'sully and Horc.

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#54 typol99
August 13 2009, 11:55AM
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LOL thats funny....I have a hemmer jersy signed by 83 i wear it to all our dub games in manitoba.. NO ONE thinks its gay...Its effn sweet man chicks dig it and guys respect the choice as he is a dangle master not afraid to take hits to make big plays...@ Wyseguy:

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#55 Red Tide
August 13 2009, 11:58AM
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I own a Hemsky jersey and where it with pride (not the gay kind!).

Hemsky is all world talent and would be close to a 100 point player if he had the right linemates IMO.

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#56 Red Tide
August 13 2009, 11:59AM
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errr *wear it with pride.

Where is the damn edit function!

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#57 Travis Dakin
August 13 2009, 11:59AM
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I named my dog Hemsky

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#58 Pokey Reddick
August 13 2009, 12:04PM
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@ Travis Dakin:

How does your wife like her new name?

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#59 Tayranchula
August 13 2009, 12:08PM
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@ Ogden Brother: Yes Hemsky isnt in there league but he could be a 100 point player in the league if he gets the right tools from Tambo. Hemsky isnt a leader, nor is he someone that is suppose to be thrusted into the spotlight and carry a team (is Malkin?). He is to quiet shy, european and all that BUT just like anyone else in the league, if they can get the right chemstry with Hemsky he would be unstoppable. Its stupid how people SH*T on Hemsky because he doesnt score 50 goals and doesnt shot enough, He has never been that type of player. So with that being said, if Hemsky is scoring at roughly a point per game pace like he has the last 4 seasons (only one of the teams made the playoffs, also no one near his skill) and is now just entering his prime years. Cant ask for anything more from him.

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#60 rindog
August 13 2009, 12:10PM
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Excellent article, I agree with you everything you wrote (because I am sure that is the validation you were looking for...).

I have a question for you Robin?

Let's say that Hemsky stays basically the same over the next 2 seasons (no gains no set backs).

What kind of contract do you see him getting when his current one expires?

I know the finicial status of the league will have an impact - but all things being equal; does Hemsky get a raise?

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#61 5cups
August 13 2009, 12:14PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

ronaldo wrote: @ Librarian Mike: A 12 year old girl with an awesome scar. And who once told me to “f*ck off” when he didn’t like something I wrote.

Robin, Love the article. Just like it's your right to write something negative, it's his to say F*ck off to you. I think he is a true talent that with a sniper could put up big numbers. I did not want Heatley the guy, but wanted the skill set as Hemmer is a 85-90pts guy with him and you build frachises around that kind of a guy. He is certainly one of the pieces, I just wish we had more.

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#62 Travis Dakin
August 13 2009, 12:19PM
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Pokey Reddick wrote:

@ Travis Dakin: How does your wife like her new name?

Wow....

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#63 rindog
August 13 2009, 12:25PM
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Tayranchula wrote:

Its stupid how people SH*T on Hemsky because he doesnt score 50 goals and doesnt shot enough

Since the lockout; look at where Hemsky sits in shots on goal for forwards.

08/09 - 1st 07/08 - 3rd (3 shots behind Stoll) 06/07 - 5th (prorated as he missed almost 20 games) 05/06 - 3rd (behind Stoll and Smyth)

It seems quite clear that while fans might want Hemsky to shoot more - he is doing just fine. The other thing about Hemsky's shots are; they are mostly "high quality" scoring chances. His shooting stats aren't inflated by weak dribblers from the halfboards. I would think the theory being that there is no point giving the puck away just to get a weak shot on a goal. He likes to keep control of the puck until there is actually a scoring chance avaialable.

I would venture to guess that Hemsky would considered one of the best bargains in the entire league based on his production?

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#64 OvenChicken8
August 13 2009, 12:25PM
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typol99 wrote:

cant argue that he he is top 20 in skill in the league and has potential for a heart.. yes a HEART TROPPHY.. given the right linemates..GO OIL GO>>

You mean the hart trophy right ;)

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#65 Nick Dynasty
August 13 2009, 12:27PM
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After a quick scan of the stats, the only players that averaged more points per game than Hemmer last year that have a lower cap hit are Slava Kozlov, Ray Whitney, and Nik Backstrom (rookie contract). I think that pretty much says how great his contract is. Also, if Hemsky had a someone like Kovalchuk, Staal, or Ovechkin to play with like those three he'd no doubt be way above them in scoring IMO.

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#66 Oilersordeath
August 13 2009, 12:28PM
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Hemsky will always be a pimp for the goal he scored to eliminate Detroit!!

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#67 OvenChicken8
August 13 2009, 12:37PM
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@ Oilersordeath: My personal fav is the GTG he scored after Stefans blundered empty netter attempt.

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#68 typol99
August 13 2009, 12:39PM
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ofcourse the correct spelling is HART but double wammy sorta speak ya no...he plays the game with pure heart and no fear so... in his case the heart...ur quick tho oven man.. can't fool u..jk@ OvenChicken8:

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#69 Oilersordeath
August 13 2009, 12:39PM
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@ OvenChicken8:

Amen to that I just wished they could have at least won the game! It was just so deflating when Dallas won.

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#70 Mark
August 13 2009, 12:40PM
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Hemsky is overated. He coughs up the puck, can't finish plays, doesn't score goals, doesn't hit, doesn't do much of anything a hockey player should do. He's an average first line player with an average salary. Nobody else in the NHL even knows or cares who Hemsky is. When Hemsky's contract comes up in three years, the number of teams bidding for his services will be few. The future of the team is Gagner, Cogliano, Gilbert, and Eberle. Hopefully Quinn gets rid of the soft Euro-trash on this team and starts building a winner around some good North American talent.

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#71 typol99
August 13 2009, 12:44PM
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Mark wrote:

Hemsky is overated. He coughs up the puck, can’t finish plays, doesn’t score goals, doesn’t hit, doesn’t do much of anything

WOW man what team u watchn thats a rediculous statment thats purely false... its ammusing how lil u no about our squad and best player..shame on u... perhaps u cheer for the calgary SHames...

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#72 OvenChicken8
August 13 2009, 12:44PM
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Mark wrote:

Hemsky is overated. He coughs up the puck, can’t finish plays, doesn’t score goals, doesn’t hit, doesn’t do much of anything a hockey player should do. He’s an average first line player with an average salary. Nobody else in the NHL even knows or cares who Hemsky is. When Hemsky’s contract comes up in three years, the number of teams bidding for his services will be few. The future of the team is Gagner, Cogliano, Gilbert, and Eberle. Hopefully Quinn gets rid of the soft Euro-trash on this team and starts building a winner around some good North American talent.

Don Cherry is that you?

But seriously, do you even watch the Oilers? My guess is no, because any person with half a brain who has even seen Hemsky play would be inclined to know that what you said above is total bullsh/t.

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#73 Oilersordeath
August 13 2009, 12:45PM
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Mark wrote:

Hemsky is overated. He coughs up the puck, can’t finish plays, doesn’t score goals, doesn’t hit, doesn’t do much of anything a hockey player should do. He’s an average first line player with an average salary. Nobody else in the NHL even knows or cares who Hemsky is. When Hemsky’s contract comes up in three years, the number of teams bidding for his services will be few. The future of the team is Gagner, Cogliano, Gilbert, and Eberle. Hopefully Quinn gets rid of the soft Euro-trash on this team and starts building a winner around some good North American talent.

Mark Whooa Brutha! Put down the crappy gonja man!! I think your being way to hard on the guy who really has no one to skate with.

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#74 typol99
August 13 2009, 12:49PM
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Oilersordeath wrote:

Hopefully Quinn gets rid of the soft Euro-trash

SO lubo is euro trash.. phhhhhhhhhh.. Get ur cateracts checked and listen tooilersordeath and put away that Shi^tty toban weed

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#75 Librarian Mike
August 13 2009, 12:51PM
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Mark wrote:

The future of the team is Gagner, Cogliano, Gilbert, and Eberle

...and Hemsky is soft? These guys make Brian Boitano look like a goon.

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#76 rindog
August 13 2009, 12:52PM
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Mark wrote:

Hemsky is overated. He coughs up the puck, can’t finish plays, doesn’t score goals, doesn’t hit, doesn’t do much of anything a hockey player should do. He’s an average first line player with an average salary. Nobody else in the NHL even knows or cares who Hemsky is.

I guess you didn't read the Gretzky quote from last year?

The one where Wayne said that Hemsky might be the greatest playmaker in the league?

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#77 cambosmash
August 13 2009, 12:57PM
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The game against Columbus after Christmas last year was one of the most incredible single player performance I've ever seen live and could could be one of the greatest single games an Oiler has ever had. Every time he touched the puck fans were on their feet. He actually won that game on his own. He obviously can't do that EVERY night but how many players can do that on ANY one night? How many of them are making under $5M per?

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#78 Oilersordeath
August 13 2009, 12:58PM
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b>: @ typol99:Hopefully Quinn gets rid of the soft Euro-trash

SO lubo is euro trash.. phhhhhhhhhh.. Get ur cateracts checked and listen tooilersordeath and put away that Shi^tty toban weed

Whoa Typo199, you got the wrong dude!! I wasnt the one doggin Hemmer it was our "buddy" Mark! I told him to lay off the shi**y weed!!

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#79 oilerpride
August 13 2009, 12:59PM
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MARK U DNT NO SH^T

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#80 typol99
August 13 2009, 01:01PM
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@ Oilersordeath: NO NO DUDE...READ AGAIN.. I SHOULD HAVE SAID MARK LISTEN TO OILERSORDEATH..BUT I JUST SAID LISTEN TO OILERSORDEATH.. I AGREE WIT U MAN.. I NO MARKY MARK N THE FUNKY SPUNK DNT NO NOTHIN

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#81 Wyseguy
August 13 2009, 01:01PM
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I took Hemsky in my pool 4 years ago and got laughed at. The next 3 years I couldn't get him before someone else did.

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#82 Nick Dynasty
August 13 2009, 01:01PM
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Mark wrote:

Hemsky is overated. He coughs up the puck, can’t finish plays, doesn’t score goals,

So I guess by your logic Hemmer manages to lead our team in goals by not scoring them and lead our team in assists by not finishing plays. Interesting...

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#83 typol99
August 13 2009, 01:02PM
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lol WELL SAID@ Nick Dynasty:

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#84 ronaldo
August 13 2009, 01:02PM
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And we all start ignoring Mark in 3..2..1..

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#85 typol99
August 13 2009, 01:04PM
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WHOA... WHAT DO I WIN...i got the 83ERD posting....oh ya ...its destiny my friends

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#86 Fish
August 13 2009, 01:06PM
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Mark is officially the biggest dork in history.

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#87 Fish
August 13 2009, 01:08PM
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@ typol99: 85th gets a kick in the n*ts.

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#88 scorecoff hemmercules
August 13 2009, 01:09PM
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Hey Travis, do you know that Pokey guy!? Kinda of a harsh comment just out of the blue like that, what gives?

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#89 typol99
August 13 2009, 01:12PM
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LMAO THATS FUN E...I like ur humor...@ Fish:

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#90 Pokey Reddick
August 13 2009, 01:13PM
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@ Oilersordeath:

Mark you are just looking for a reaction, what a stupid comment about Hemsky. Hemsky is the Oilers best player and most talented by a country mile

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#91 Travis Dakin
August 13 2009, 01:13PM
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Don't fee the Troll people.... (Mark)

scorecoff hemmercules wrote:

Hey Travis, do you know that Pokey guy!? Kinda of a harsh comment just out of the blue like that, what gives?

HAHA no I don't but I have a sense of humour so it's not too bad. I just found it interesting that he went there. I've been around here longe enough to not be offended.

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#92 scorecoff hemmercules
August 13 2009, 01:14PM
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hxxp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3sh6ALwzchY

Nice Hemmer video. The play he makes 55 sec in is really something else.

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#93 Colin
August 13 2009, 01:14PM
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Librarian Mike wrote:

Mark wrote: The future of the team is Gagner, Cogliano, Gilbert, and Eberle …and Hemsky is soft? These guys make Brian Boitano look like a goon.

Boitano is a total goon, remember when he travelled through time to the year 3010? He fought the evil robot king and saved us all again.

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#94 typol99
August 13 2009, 01:16PM
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i

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#95 typol99
August 13 2009, 01:16PM
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got 94 as well...i m on fire

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#96 typol99
August 13 2009, 01:18PM
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someone else can have 99...after all its only fair

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#97 OvenChicken8
August 13 2009, 01:19PM
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Colin wrote:

Boitano is a total goon, remember when he travelled through time to the year 3010? He fought the evil robot king and saved us all again.

He would kick an ass or two. That's what Brian Boitano'd do.

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#98 Colin
August 13 2009, 01:20PM
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@ typol99:

Stop being a troll. The FirzT behaviour crap isn't needed or wanted here.

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#99 scorecoff hemmercules
August 13 2009, 01:20PM
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Do I win 20 cents for comment #88?

*hates self for just writing that*

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#100 typol99
August 13 2009, 01:22PM
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r u serious...ill piss pump u ya sick bastar%.. take a effn joke..ur prob a fuc*n janitor a stupid fall downColin wrote:

@ typol99: Stop being a troll. The FirzT behaviour crap isn’t needed or wanted here.
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