WHAT THE HELL HEMSKY?

Lowetide
April 13 2013 09:37AM

There is a large segment of Oilers Nation that never did buy in to Ales Hemsky as a hockey player. Despite sick hands and incredible creativity, Hemsky's heart has always been questioned in certain circles. The most recent example is this week, when it was revealed that 83 has been playing through pain for much of the season. Despite that revelation, the major issue with Hemsky this week is media availability. What the hell, Hemsky?

The last time Edmonton was any good, Ales Hemsky was front and center. In the spring of 2006, he was a major part of the team's offense as they romped through the western conference, leaving favorites on the sidelines all down the line.

2006 PLAYOFF LEADING SCORERS (OILERS)

  1. Chris Pronger 5-16-21
  2. Shawn Horcoff 7-12-19
  3. Fernando Pisani 14-4-18
  4. Ales Hemsky 6-11-17
  5. Ryan Smyth 7-9-16
  6. Sergei Samsonov 4-11-15
  7. Jaroslav Spacek 3-11-14
  8. Michael Peca 6-5-11
  9. Raffi Torres 4-7-11
  10. Jarret Stoll 4-6-10

Hemsky is one of a trio of Oilers who remain Oilers (Ryan Smyth had a period away from the team, as you know) and is young enough to be a "mentor" and leader for the young generation should the Oilers choose to retain him.

YOU GOTTA HAVE HEART

This week, Hemsky's season (which has been uneven, by eye and by math) was cast in a  new light when it was revealed he's been playing through injury. The Edmonton Journal's excellent Joanne Ireland has the story here, and the money quote is this:

  • Ralph Krueger: “It’s gotten worse so it’s time for a break. He was showing a lot of courage. He was there for the team. Kudos to him for trying to play through it.”

Sitting Hemsky is basically confirmation from the Oilers that the season is lost, the time for pushing those who are genuinely hurt is gone, and that string is being run out. Ireland's quoting of Hemsky talking about not making excuses is textbook hockey player, they're a tough bunch and any fan worth his salt knows it.

WHAT THE HELL HEMSKY?

Unless there's something more. There has always been a disconnect between player and media (most recently expressed here) and Hemsky's time in Edmonton has certainly included some issues with the mainstream media. 99% of the quotes offered by hockey players the world over are file 13 material, and I credit those who do the hard work of finding something interesting from a locker room trained to give them nothing at all.

My own feeling is this: Ales Hemsky has been a sublime talent during his NHL career with the Oilers, and has taken a "hometown discount" at least twice during his career in order to stay in Edmonton. His interviews are not earth shattering, but he seems to be forthright and honest when questioned (as he was in the Ireland piece) on an issue.

I don't give a damn if the msm doesn't get timely Hemsky time, nor (I believe) shoud the fanbase. If the Oilers want Hemsky to refrain from talking to the media about an injury, and have chosen his treatment time to coincide with those avails, more power to them. It's also possible a player like Ales Hemsky observed the Sheldon Souray fiasco and decided to steer clear of a misstep using a second language.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

Ales Hemsky has struggled this season, and we found out this week injuries once again are an issue. I think it's fair to suggest the Oilers have to weigh his ability to stay in the lineup as a huge item in the consideration of retaining him beyond his current contract.

Beyond that, I don't see an issue. There are no measurements for "heart" beyond the numbers we already have, and on the list of things I'd like Ales Hemsky to do speaking to the media on time is so far down the list you can't find it.

Ales Hemsky has no heart? I understand it's an argument some will make, but it's also true that the last time this club had anything to play for the kid from Pardubice was front and center.

Maybe some of us have memories that don't go back that far. Maybe that's something for us to work on.

Lowetide at High Noon goes at 12pm today on Team 1260. Scheduled to appear:

  • Former Edmonton Oiler Doug Hicks, who is part of a huge fundrasier for Alzheimer’s that involves you, playing with former NHLers and a weekend of fun.
  • James Mirtle from the Globe and Mail. We’ll talk Leafs, Randy Carlyle’s unusual decisions, Oilers and trade deadline
  • Michael Parkatti, Boys on the Bus. Michael’s shot differential numbers have been an excellent guide to the season, and we’ll ask his opinion of men like Ryan Whitney, Sam Gagner and Ales Hemsky.
  • Bruce McCurdy from Cult of Hockey: We’ll talk trade deadline, Oilers in the summer and Curtis Lazar.
  • Corey Graham, pbp man for the Oil Kings. I’ll ask Corey about the amazing run for the Oil Kings this spring, the job ahead for the team and get a prospect update on names like Gernat and Musil.

Hope you can tune in, best way to get questions and comments to our guests is on twitter @Lowetide_ or in the comments section below.

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Lowetide has been one of the Oilogosphere's shining lights for over a century. You can check him out here at OilersNation and at lowetide.ca. He is also the host of Lowdown with Lowetide weekday mornings 10-noon on TSN 1260.
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#51 Romulus' Apotheosis
April 13 2013, 02:40PM
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@Oiler Al

"wordly skills"

I'm guessing this is a typo of "worldly" but I'm not sure that makes much more sense. In that case, you'd seem to be suggesting Hemsky's got the profane down but needs to work on his sacred skills.

At any rate, both ("wordly" or "worldly") amuse me a great deal. We could all use a great deal of either!

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#52 TKB2677
April 13 2013, 02:44PM
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@Oiler Al

Bang on man. The vets on this team have been an epic fail and Hemsky the first candidate. He hasn't been good since th 08-09 season. I know he had shoulder problems but it took him more than 3 years to get over it so you can't tell me its been all shoulder.

The Oilers management have invested a hell of a lot of time, been extremely patient, loyal and understanding with Hemsky. They have given him way more rope than I think they should have and he has done little or nothing other than collect a fat pay check to give them any sort of return on their investment. Based on hhis production, he's basically been a thief.

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#53 Bushed
April 13 2013, 03:02PM
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Muji wrote:

Mark Spector is a knob. Hemsky doesn't talk to him so he basically slanders Hemsky. He calls him a jerk, says he's overpaid, says he's bad hockey player, says he should be traded.

Can you imagine?

Say you work in an office. Your annoying coworker constantly bugs you with dumb questions. You're a quiet guy and English isn't even your first language so instead of risking saying something you would regret, you stay silent and simply ignore the guy.

The guy has issues. So he takes it personally. He starts rumours about you. He talks to your boss and tries to get him to fire you. He basically tries to ruin your life. Because you didn't talk to him.

And he still asks you dumb questions. Do you want to talk to him now?

Who's wrong in the scenario above?

Perfect analogy. Agree 100%.

Also similar to the Matheson treatment of Yakupov at the world juniors before the season.

Ironic that the biggest prima donnas in these scenarios are the reporters, not the NHL players.

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#54 NewAgeSys
April 13 2013, 03:52PM
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Hemsky is a zone entry specialist and needs to be utilised as such 100% of the time not be asked to be a footsoldier. He has been injured a lot but he performs at an elite level and that is the price he is willing to pay to be an elite NHLer. As a team we need to pay the price to retain his zone entry ability by adjusting the system.

I feel he has gotten a fair rap over the years, he had a rough ride evolving mostly because of the way the Organisation laid the relationships dynamic groundrules down from day one, Ales had a different core degree of value back then and was treated with kid gloves because we had to do that. He is a product of his environment and he became sensitive but still tough and we have to take 100% of that accountability seeing as he has been here basiclly his entire career and we forged him with our template.

I appreciate that he said that he voluntarily played injured, that he wanted to contribute, I appreciate it when players try to work injured, it doesnt sound like he was pigeonholed into coming back to soon like Souray was, it sounds like he knew the price and was willing to pay it.

I dont subscribe to injured players being on the roster at all, a 75% Hemmer is not better than a 100% average players, unless we are literally in a playoff series and you dont practice that type of scarifice during the regular season.

The reason Hemmer was injured was because he was doing his job blocking a shot, a job we need done, my point is supported 100% because until Hemsky can repeat that identical play and put himself in the exact position with no fear and hesitation he shouldnt be in the lineup because he cannot do his job as well as a replacement asked to stand in front of another shot in the foot. Its not about the players willingness , it is about their ability, and the system requires as much ability as willingness.

As with all NHLers Hemsky has aged and evolved, and his role has changed on this team, on another he is top dog still, but here he needs to simply be himself on the 3rd line with spot duty up and down. he needs to take pride in scoring from the 3rd lone and learn to understand that those goals are more valuable now because they support the Kids he is teaching, after all he is a veteran although we dont hear that mentioned much in terms of teaching the Kids.

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#55 Oiler Al
April 13 2013, 04:25PM
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Romulus' Apotheosis wrote:

"wordly skills"

I'm guessing this is a typo of "worldly" but I'm not sure that makes much more sense. In that case, you'd seem to be suggesting Hemsky's got the profane down but needs to work on his sacred skills.

At any rate, both ("wordly" or "worldly") amuse me a great deal. We could all use a great deal of either!

Romulus Apotheosis.. Thanks for the heads up on the spell check.. " worldly" was what I wanted to type. [ blame it on the keyboard ]

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#56 NewAgeSys
April 13 2013, 04:28PM
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Bushed wrote:

Perfect analogy. Agree 100%.

Also similar to the Matheson treatment of Yakupov at the world juniors before the season.

Ironic that the biggest prima donnas in these scenarios are the reporters, not the NHL players.

Pre-Internet sports writers and personalitys had tangible power they could weild and they could truly affect an NHLers career if they were motivated, today as soon as they open their flaps and try ganging up on someone the internet balances the playing field.

Please remember to engage and battle these influences whenever you see them stepping out of line and abusing their powers. There are a few who are learning to effectively use both traditional media and the Internet together to defend their powerbase or ability to weild tangible influence.

Comment and support media people when they behave with a modicum of class, and when they are just simply straight up and honest and use integrity in their job execution.

The stark reality is that many many internet posters are much better hockey analysts and writers than the actual guys who have the jobs with traditional media outlets where they earn their paycheques, and sometimes these naturally talented posters punt media personalitys in their Crown Royale Bag with legitimate cause. Then commonly the media hack will put the call out to his cronys and retaliate as hard as he can using gang tactics.

When asports personality is unprofessional guys can ignore them now and not fear being blackballed as they had to in the past, in fact now they can simply count on the fans like us having fair and intelligent judgement abilitys that will support them and protect them from a media blackballing.

Unscroupulous media people who bend the rules and try to abuse their media powers and influences need to be dealt with through the Peoples Court on-line on the internet. If they can take the heat and play by the new rules which require integrity and honesty and dont allow old-school manipulation then they will thrive and do well,if they are weasels and try to flex their now useless media muscles then we can spank them back into their places as fans quite quickly.

Yakupov had some excellent advice and direction and he has mastered the interview and matured quickly, he is a fast study and he has a lonnng memory, I hope all the Oilers take an aggressive stance with the Media here in Edmonton because for many many years the Team and Players had to kiss media arse to support a flagging franchise. Now the Oilers can re-assert themselves and not pander to the ,media at all, they can present a united front as all top echelon NHL teams do as standard operating procedure, they never present themselves as fractured, and dont allow the media to have any dynamic effect on their teams day to day functions.

Go ahead and bait an Oiler in the media and see what the fans do when we see what you have done, try to deny the reality the back-lash will have on you via both the players teammates and the fans pinning you down and holding you accountable for your actions. The Oilers are beginning to gel as a team and you can see it in their interviews, the stitches are being put in closer and closer together now and the fabric is getting stronger by the week. Its not a good time to be overly-critical of the Oilers, they and their fans are becoming defensive and territorial, there will be a response now and it will only get stronger as the team and fans continue to join each other on the same page.

I see most media people acting professionally and most Oilers embracing them, the team and the media have a very supportive relationship in Edmonton by and large, we have our bad apples as everyone does but it is what it is.

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#57 Dog Train
April 13 2013, 04:32PM
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Some people are born to lead and others are born to follow. Hemsky is very skilled and is more courageous than he ever gets credit for. He's never looked comfortable talking to the media and that's just fine. I think he has enjoyed the fact that the spotlight is no longer on him and he can just play hockey. Unfortunately, injuries haven't allowed him to do much of that the past few seasons either.

I think it's time for Hemmer to be moved. For his sake and for the team's sake. He is a proven top six forward. We have plenty of skill with Eberle and Yakupov needing top six minutes on the right side next season. A team like the Bruins or Blues who have the grit but are looking for a little bit more speed and skill come to mind.

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#58 Romulus' Apotheosis
April 13 2013, 05:05PM
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@Oiler Al

no worries....

FYI not trying to pick on grammar and spelling... I only point out something like this when I find it amusing, like the other day when someone said someone else ought to "go fourth" instead of "forth"

those kinds of typos crack me up and deserve sharing.

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#59 GVBlackhawk
April 13 2013, 05:31PM
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Jasmine wrote:

Just too bad that Tambi gets a free ride and Lowe gets blamed for everything by the Lowe haters. Believe it or not, the Lowe haters have also blamed Lowe for Slats' mistakes.

The criticisms and indictments of both Lowe and Tambellini have been well documented on multiple websites.

They are both culpable for the current state of the team.

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#60 GVBlackhawk
April 13 2013, 05:36PM
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Jasmine wrote:

Oilers fans like running players out of town. Many good players have been run out by Oilers fans as well as Terry Jones.

Poti was run out by Terry Jones. Then there was Greene, Stoll and others. This is the reason Oilers have a hard time signing UFAs.

Please specify which players have been 'run out of town' by fans.

From my perspective, management have been responsible for ALL player transactions. They did an especially poor job dealing with the likes of Sheldon Souray, Linus Omark, Kyle Brodziak, etc. These are textbook examples of poor player/asset management.

The fans are not responsible for this.

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