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