If you’ve missed it, there’s a story in the Calgary Herald from yesterday where Ales Hemsky publicly complains about the way he has been handled.
Dan Barnes, for my money the best sports columnist in Edmonton, writes the piece and does his best to soften Hemsky’s complaints, but here’s the money quote:
“I’m just trying to do exactly what they want. I’m becoming a checker,” he said with obvious displeasure after Monday’s practice. “We’re just doing what we have to do to win games. I’m not complaining. It’s important to win the games. I just don’t feel as important as I did before when they were riding me. I don’t feel they use me as much as they did before. If they don’t give me the confidence or trust me, I will never be playing the way I was before, the way they want. I’m just saying I don’t care about points. I know I didn’t play my best hockey. I can be better and I know they will need me. But they have got to show me they need me. Ride me. It’s 10 games. I will feel important and I will get better every game.”
The responses have been about what you would expect. The vast majority of people seem to think that either a) Hemsky’s being a big baby, or b) Craig MacTavish just moved much, much closer to the chopping block.
Personally, I’m not convinced it’s that big of a deal. Do a quick Google search for “unhappy ice time” if you don’t believe me. There are pages and pages of players complaining about their ice-time — it happens.
At the same time this isn’t a complete non-story either. Hemsky’s a star player, and there’s an obvious disagreement between him and MacTavish over his exact role. Hemsky feels that he deserves more ice-time, and I’m not at all convinced he’s wrong, although he hasn’t really earned a heavy workload this last little while.
The bottom line though is that it isn’t all that uncommon for a hockey player — even one as notable as Hemsky — being unhappy with the ice-time that the coach is giving him. So don’t expect this quote to result in much more than a talk between the coach and the star, and perhaps a few extra shifts for Hemsky; that’s about all it warrants. And as for the notion that Hemsky’s being petulant or whiny – isn’t a star player who wants to play more a good thing? While Hemsky may not have handled things ideally, the root motive — a desire to play a bigger and better role — is only a positive for this team.