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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#101 Colin
August 13 2009, 01:22PM
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@ scorecoff hemmercules: That or being admired as the solution to every problem but putting in no effort yourself.

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#102 Fish
August 13 2009, 01:23PM
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@ Colin: So weak Colin. So weak.

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#103 Colin
August 13 2009, 01:23PM
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@ typol99:

An accountant actually, but close, I do have to clean up other people's crap.

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#104 typol99
August 13 2009, 01:26PM
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so ur toilet paper then... ya i guess i was close...@ Colin: Colin wrote:

@ typol99: An accountant actually, but close, I do have to clean up other people’s crap.

wipe stortini's ass ' get some of those daygo's out..cause man he cant skate..

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#105 Fish
August 13 2009, 01:27PM
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@ Colin: CGA, CMA or CA?

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#106 J-Bird
August 13 2009, 01:28PM
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Here, here Robin!

I guarantee when teams play the Oil, on the white board in the room is a #83 with a circle around it. All they key on.

Curious what the win's vs games in which Hemsky puts up points is? He makes it go. And pretty much on his own all the time.

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#107 ronaldo
August 13 2009, 01:31PM
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OvenChicken8 wrote:

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

Nice

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#108 typol99
August 13 2009, 01:31PM
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Our coaching staff will push cogs and gags to carrer highs...if habby is healthy were in the 7-8 spot perhaps even six depending how well we fair in our div

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#109 Librarian Mike
August 13 2009, 01:33PM
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OvenChicken8 wrote:

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.

"Who the Hell are you?"

"I'm Brian Dennehy."

"F**k off, old man."

Funniest movie ever!

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#110 Hemmertime
August 13 2009, 01:34PM
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More Entertaining Players than Hemsky: Ovechkin, Malkin

In my eyes Hemsky is the third most entertaining player in the NHL. I am biased, but it is a legitimate claim. Based on I watch hockey for entertainment (winning makes it more entertaining yes - but I wouldnt want to play Minnesota style to do it) I'll take Hemsky on our team over any 70-80 pt man in the league, and some 90 pt men.

For those asking if can build a winner around him, he was our best offensive player in 06 when we came 1 win away. We win that 1 game and there are no questions. I think it's evidence you can.

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#111 Robin Brownlee
August 13 2009, 01:36PM
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ronaldo wrote:

And we all start ignoring Mark in 3..2..1..

Good idea, but first . . . . Mark: Do you just need attention in the way of reaction or do you have shit-for-brains, son? A bogus post just meant to stir things up? Short dick? It's got to be the attention thing because otherwise you're a dribbling dummy with stunted brainstem activity. Were you wearing a helmet and banging your head off the desk when you wrote this? If that's the case we'll just let you be and apologize for being less-than-sensitive to your many "challenges." If it's the attention thing, and you're just a garden variety stooge, GTFU and go get your fix somewhere else.

OvenChicken8 wrote:

@ Oilersordeath: My personal fav is the GTG he scored after Stefans blundered empty netter attempt.

Never saw anything like that in 25 years of covering hockey and I probably never will again. That was electric. Buggered up my game story plenty.

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#112 thashiznit
August 13 2009, 01:38PM
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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.

This is obviously a joke as someone is trying to get a rise out of the Nation!

If it isn't a joke, then your obviously a moron.

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#113 typol99
August 13 2009, 01:44PM
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true dat....complete moron....just like marc edward vlasic pickles@ thashiznit:

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#114 Hemmertime
August 13 2009, 01:45PM
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Mark wrote:

Hopefully Quinn gets rid of the soft Euro-trash on this team and starts building a winner around some good North American talent.

~ I know, all those HORRIBLE Detroit teams with all those Euros for the last 15 years. Just shoddy. Also, great plan on firing Tambo and putting Quinn in his position. Hemsky's willingness to get hit just shows how soft he is! ~

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#115 Bill Rizer
August 13 2009, 01:46PM
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Offtopic: The Lightning have acquired LW Drew Miller and a 3rd rd pick in 2010 from Anaheim in exchange for Evgeny Artyukhin.

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#116 typol99
August 13 2009, 01:48PM
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Arts aint bad@ Bill Rizer: Evgeny Artyukhin Wing Born Apr 4 1983 -- Moscow, Russia Height 6.04 -- Weight 254 -- Shoots L

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#117 Ogden Brother
August 13 2009, 01:59PM
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Tayranchula wrote:

@ 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.

If he puts up 100 points he'll be in the running for the Hart trophy... no way he ever gets within 5 points of 100 (baring an increase in league wide scoring)

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#118 Tayranchula
August 13 2009, 02:03PM
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another off topic suggestion, but if the oilers are interested in Kessel (which isnt a bad thing) and he is 5 mil a season why dont they just sign him to a contract and see if Boston matches it (and yes i no every team in the whole NHL will hate EDM forever but no one else wants to come here sadly :( ). We have done it before and I think Kessel would pay off better than Penner has (although Penner isnt total sh*t he is still alright).

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#119 Ogden Brother
August 13 2009, 02:04PM
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Hemmertime wrote:

More Entertaining Players than Hemsky: Ovechkin, Malkin In my eyes Hemsky is the third most entertaining player in the NHL. I am biased, but it is a legitimate claim. Based on I watch hockey for entertainment (winning makes it more entertaining yes - but I wouldnt want to play Minnesota style to do it) I’ll take Hemsky on our team over any 70-80 pt man in the league, and some 90 pt men. For those asking if can build a winner around him, he was our best offensive player in 06 when we came 1 win away. We win that 1 game and there are no questions. I think it’s evidence you can.

Gaborik/Kovalev give those guys a run for entertainment value.

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#120 OvenChicken8
August 13 2009, 02:06PM
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@ Tayranchula: 5 million RFA signing... how many first would we give up? 3 again?

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#121 Tayranchula
August 13 2009, 02:17PM
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@ Ogden Brother: Your not that smart are you. I never said he could do it alone. Hemsky skating on a team with no one else his skill is a 70 to 80 point player. If he plays with some like Sheatley (eww gross!) or someone that can finish and play with skill he is a 90 to 100 point player. Hemsky isnt the final answer to the Oilers being a graat weatern conference team sadly, but just like past 3 Stanley cup Champs you need a 1 2 punch to be good. Hemsky and a sniper will be that 1 2 punch the Oilers are looking for. And unless Ganger matures his game rapidly over the summer he is still going to a perfect fit as second line first PP player. Im not saying Ganger is going to be that for his whole career, the face of the Oilers is going to be Ganger very soon.

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#122 Tayranchula
August 13 2009, 02:18PM
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@ OvenChicken8: O Snap never thought about that. Scratch that idea. haha

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#123 Nick Dynasty
August 13 2009, 02:21PM
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Tayranchula wrote:

but if the oilers are interested in Kessel (which isnt a bad thing) and he is 5 mil a season why dont they just sign him to a contract and see if Boston matches it

We don't have the cap room to do this. Not unless you can find someone to take 5M in salary off our books. And for offer sheets up to 5.2M I believe the compensation is the same as we gave for Penner: a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd round pick. I'm not sure I'm sold on Kessel yet tho. I'm always weery of guys who double their production in their contract years (see Jason Blake)

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#124 typol99
August 13 2009, 02:25PM
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kessel would be ok i guess.

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#125 Chris.
August 13 2009, 02:43PM
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@ Tayranchula:

No more RFA raids please. When you combine the obligatory overpay with the lost draft pick: you NEVER come out ahead. Does anyone believe that Penner could fetch us back a first, second, and a third round pick?

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#126 Chris.
August 13 2009, 02:48PM
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@ Mark:

Hemsky is an offensively gifted, somewhat one-dimensional player who outperforms his contract, and is critical to the success of the Oiler franchise. To say SOME Oiler fans overate him is fair comment.

P.S. Hemskey's heritage is completely irrelevent.

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#127 Woodguy
August 13 2009, 03:01PM
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"or because a numbers guy can come up with less-than-flattering statistics about how he’s propped up defensively by Shawn Horcoff."

Robin,

On behalf of the numbers guys, I have never seen anyone print that.

The numbers indicate he plays better with Horcoff than anyone else on the Oilers, but to suggest he is less of player because of it is ridiculous.

Like most "seen em good guys", the numbers guys peel away the pages of the calendar hoping that the mythical LW trigger man comes along for Hemsky before his contract starts running out. Heck, even Horcoff said as much on Gregor's show yesterday.

To be so close to getting Heatley and then not is just that extra dagger in the heart.

Hopefully, the team improves in the next 3 years so Hemsky wants to stay.....and we have the cap space available for him.

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#128 MrOiler
August 13 2009, 03:19PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

Rick wrote: Out of curiosity, do you think he is good enough to build a winning team around? Yes. But they’d damn well better get to it because there’s a three-year window here before he says, “Ah hell, I’ll go win a Cup in Detroit” or “I’ll go play in Los Angeles for big bucks and nobody will jump on me for only being a 65-75 point player.”

First off, HBD Ales.

Second, you can't say the organization hasn't tried - i.e. Heatley, Hossa, Jagr. They've really stepped it up and some even rip them for looking desperate.

p.s. - Good article, RB. Both you and JW have put a few things into perspective today. Trading Hemmercules at this point is a silly concept, just as expecting a first-liner to score a ppg is unrealistic.

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#129 Librarian Mike
August 13 2009, 03:21PM
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Chris. wrote:

P.S. Hemskey’s heritage is completely irrelevent.

Quoted for truth. Fact is, if you were to look for the embodiment of all that is good about hockey, you would find one Mr. A. Ovechkin.

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#130 Randy83
August 13 2009, 03:22PM
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I just went to the "oilers news" link at the top of Oilersnation, and the newest headline was about heatley, and how we still haven't given up on him, dated Aug 13 2009!!!??? What's up with that?

Quote: The Oilers won't give up in their quest to land Dany Heatley. A full month after he used his no-trade clause to veto a trade to the Oilers, the club still isn't willing to walk away from the table.

Read more: http://www.oilersnation.com/category/oilers-news/#ixzz0O6GvucNW

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#131 bingofuel
August 13 2009, 03:23PM
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@ Randy83:

Must be some crappy old article the old feed grabber yanked. ANNOYING.

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#132 Fish
August 13 2009, 03:33PM
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I still think that malcontent will end up here,

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#133 OvenChicken8
August 13 2009, 03:51PM
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@ Fish: If he does great, if he doesn't great.

I'll tell you one thing though, if he does end up here I won't buy his jersey... EVER!

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#134 Fish
August 13 2009, 03:58PM
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I already bought it.

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#135 willy fisterbotom
August 13 2009, 04:03PM
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hemsky could be called alot of things.... soft euro trash would be the last thing any1 with half a brain would call him

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#136 Oilersordeath
August 13 2009, 04:10PM
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@ typol99: My bad brutha! You the man!!

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#137 Cam
August 13 2009, 04:13PM
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Woodguy wrote:

On behalf of the numbers guys, I have never seen anyone print that.

I believe he is referring to a posting that indicated that Hemsky was better with Horcoff than without him. I know because I chimed in saying that Horcoff's defensive responsibility allows Hemsky to be more creative.

It was also used to argue that Hemsky is nothing without Horcoff, which was a bit of a stretch. I think they complement each other quite well... and if Horcoff can get his trigger back into 07/08 form we could see some magic.

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#138 oilFan
August 13 2009, 04:16PM
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If we were to go after another RFA I think Ilya in Atlanta would be our guy. We would have to drop pisani , staio, moreau and nillson. I'm not sure he is a RFA, does anyone know if he is ?

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#139 OvenChicken8
August 13 2009, 04:39PM
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@ oilFan: I'm pretty sure he's a UFA after next season.

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#140 BigE57
August 13 2009, 04:43PM
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Kovalchuk is an unrestricted free agent after this season according to nhlnumbers.com

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#141 The Menace
August 13 2009, 05:04PM
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Fish wrote:

I already bought it.

love it.

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#142 typol99
August 13 2009, 06:14PM
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i no that a few of u are intellagent so answer this....would we trade cogs and penner and a third rounder for cammelari.....montreal wants cogs's speed and youth if mikey c dont produce by tradecenter 2010.. look for gainy to push this trade..tambo will probly just thro penner in 4 nothing cause he is a brutal toban that is the highest overpaid player in all of sports history

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#143 Dallas
August 13 2009, 06:18PM
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Does anyone know if hemsky is a UFA or a RFA after his contract is up?

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#144 Jonathan Willis
August 13 2009, 06:21PM
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@ typol99:

Montreal isn't trading a guy they just signed last month.

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#145 Jonathan Willis
August 13 2009, 06:22PM
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@ Dallas:

Hemsky's unrestricted.

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#146 Harlie
August 13 2009, 06:33PM
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wrote:

Mark wrote: Nobody else in the NHL even knows or cares who Hemsky is.

I know a guy in Calgary who was a Leaf's fan and he was talking up Hemsky about 5 years ago saying he wished that T-dot had Hemsky and that Edmonton had a future superstar on it's hands.

Take a seat.

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#147 Kingsblade
August 13 2009, 06:35PM
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typol99 wrote:

tambo will probly just thro penner in 4 nothing cause he is a brutal toban that is the highest overpaid player in all of sports history

A fan of hyperbole I see.

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#148 typol99
August 13 2009, 06:58PM
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lol um.. i forgot that never happens in todays cap struck nhl...giv ur head a shake@ Jonathan Willis:

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#149 Dallas
August 13 2009, 07:00PM
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@ Jonathan Willis: Ouch that's Scary. How many years left sorry for making ya do the work but I'm curious and thanks for the reply JW keep up the good work though I'm not a fan of all the numbers lol

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#150 typol99
August 13 2009, 07:04PM
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Dallas wrote:

@ Jonathan Willis: I’m not a fan of all the numbers lol

ur obviously old as balls ....our team is youth and so is our fan base. 75% of oilers fans are 35 yrs old or younger...

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