What Tambellini Said (And Didn’t Say) About Ales Hemsky

Edmonton Oilers v Buffalo Sabres

The Oilers’ relationship with their star players the last few years has not been without a few bumps along the way, and perhaps that’s the reason I find myself worrying about how things are between the team and Ales Hemsky.

There have been whispers that Hemsky isn’t going to stay in Edmonton when his current contract expires, with some even suggesting that he might welcome a trade. Certainly it’s fair to wonder which players do want out, given that the Oilers and Souray both denied he’d requested a trade more than a year ago, and especially given Tambellini’s near-rant about players who don’t want to play in Edmonton at his season ending press conference.

Hemsky’s name came up once and Tambellini’s post-season press conference, and the way Tambellini mentioned it wasn’t entirely complimentary.

“You can debate whether or not [Hemsky]’s our best player, but he’s our most skilled player for sure.”

Perhaps I’m reading too much into that statement, but given the comments that have floated in the media over the last year about Hemsky’s practice habits, I wonder if perhaps Steve Tambellini is dissatisfied with his star forward’s attitude. Certainly that would reflect a sensitive area for the G.M., who in both this season’s mad-as-hell press conference and the one he held last season repeatedly emphasized the importance of character and a winning mentality.

This is largely conjecture on my part, but it was a hunch I felt a little stronger about after Tambellini sang the praises of Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk:

“Tougher means in a lot of different areas. Is Pavel Datsyuk a tough player? He’s a tough player. He’s a tough player because he puts his body in positions where he’s vulnerable physically at times. He’s not a strong man, to punish people, but he’s not afraid to go into areas to get pucks to score goals, to make things happen.”

That’s a description that fits Hemsky to a tee. The biggest reason Hemsky keeps getting hurt is because he keeps going into corners with people like Michal Handzus and Robyn Regehr. But Tambellini didn’t cite Hemsky; he didn’t cite anyone on his own team as an example of this sort of toughness (he mentioned J-F Jacques as an example of grit a little later on) but instead picked a Red Wings forward as an example.

Why wouldn’t he take that opportunity to say nice things about a player who fits the description and happens to play for his team? I don’t know the answer, but if I were to guess I’d say it is because Tambellini doesn’t see Hemsky as a similarly courageous player.

  • Jmask5

    Wow talk about overanalyzing. It seems to me that Edmontonians have a infriority complex. If someone doesn't kiss the city's butt every single interview than they want out for sure. Get over it people.

    • Whew! Thanks for that insight.

      Here I've been going off on a tangent about being doubtful Hemsky will re-sign here after this deal is up based on what I've observed first-hand over the past several years, but an inferiority complex is twisting my judgment.

      There is over-analyzing and then there is, well, what you just said.

      • I have no idea why Tambellini down plays Hemsky's achievements, and why he insists that a goalie with .909 SV% when his back gave out was the team MVP.

        If Hemsky has been giving management the cold shoulder on extension talks, this would have been the perfect opportunity to build a bridge by telling him how important he is to the team.

        Since the lock out, all Hesmky has done is be the 3rd more prolific RW point producer in the NHL (in terms of pts/game). He has done this playing against the opposition's toughest players while not having that elusive LH trigger man that could help propel his numbers into the Sedin range. He played well with Penner this year, but the coach played him more with the hockey black hole that is JFJ more often.

        The Oilers need to be talking about extensions to both Penner and Hemsky. If either of them is really cold to the idea, then its best to move them sooner rather than later to maximize return.

        The last thing you want to do is get a couple of draft picks back for Hemsky as a rental in the spring of 2012.

        Its sad that the best player to have played for the organization since Doug Weight is not keen on resigning, but I don't blame him.

        It would be terrible management for the Oilers to minimize his return by doing nothing until the trade deadline before his contract is up, so that is exactly what I expect this group to do.

  • OilFan

    According to Quinn (and anybody else who watched them play) the Oilers need to improve their skill. Would you get rid of your most skilled player then. A better opotion might be to get rid of ST.

  • OilFan

    Why would anyone not believe Brownlee? Every other player has wanted out. Hemsky may have not told Robin out right, but I think you get a read on a person after how many interviews LOL.

  • So if the names Robyn Regehr & Matt Greene were thrown out on either side of a trade, how would the rest of the deal shake out in everyone's various opinions (Robin & Jason in particular)?

  • OilFan

    I've mentioned this before but if I'm talking to Florida I target Shawn Matthias, not Nathan Horton…

    Plus, I still hold on to Hemsky until next summer…Maybe Hemsky is leaving, maybe he isn't….things can change depending on how the team looks after next season…I for one do not want to trade a talent like Hemsky at age 26 unless he has requested it..

    If he won't sign an extension next summer then by all means pull the trigger… but a Hemsky signed to another 5 or 6 yr extension lasting to age 32 would work great with the likes of Hall, Eberle, Gagner, Svensson, Brule, etc. going forward.

    We'd finally have an abundance of skill all at the same time…keep Hemsky, add Hall and start thinking about getting some size, toughness and mean streaks in our bottom 6 instead of trading our BEST player away for yet another draft pick

  • Hemmertime

    Oiler History Lesson 101 . When you form a farm club and drive them into the toilet along with your big club then what can you realistically expect from your players development when you relegate them to NHL status ? You certainly can't expect success now can you . Oilers were better off when others were devloping out talents to be honest . Now you promote these under developed talents to NHL level and wonder why are our real talent is suffering and want out ,and they too do not develop to their potentials . The toxic problem is also firmly entrenched in the farm system as well . You don't have to be an Einstein to realze who's responsible for this mess , and the unlikely chance even the best of draft picks is going to have a serious problem developing in the farm system or the NHL . The "buck " stops at the top where it belongs . Can we realistically expect to fair any better 5 years from now along the lines present management , etc. has taken players and teams over the last 4 years or so ? No , there is no reason to expect anything more than what they have done up till now ! The only thing left for present management group is their ability to sell their fans false and misleading advertizement of so called hope , which is wearing pretty thin . You should all be offended when Tams implicates you Oiler fans , media and players as being a problem because of your negative comments toward organization , etc – and basically told to shut up ( implied or otherwise ) . Oiler brass needs to take their heads out of their ass.. , and put up and shut up .

  • Hemmertime

    The sooner the fans and Oiler Nation lay the blame where it rightly belongs, and refuses to buy the false promises and advertising of present management – the sooner we might see present management replaced or hand in their resignations . Then a new team can get on with cleaning up the ever mounting problems our present managerial team has mounted upon this organization . Optimism comes in the form of a new managerial team and vision , for we have already had enough time to assess what present team seems incapable of doing!

  • Reagan

    Personally, I would trade Hemsky after or during this next this season. Not because I don't like the guy, but A; Why keep someone that doesn't want to be here and most likely won't resign, B; he has a tradeable contract, C; I truly don't believe he will amount to anymore than he has already achieved, D; How many more injuries await this guy after having season ending surgery?

    The Oilers should seriously consider moving him on Draft weekend to secure another Top 5 Pick. Personal opinion of course.

    BTW, I had a dream last night the Oilers traded the Number 1 pick for Iginla… Yikes… LOL

      • Reagan

        A few comments have been mentioned in article suggesting that he will not resign here after his current deal is done.

        He is worth a top 5 pick if packaged with the right player. Alone he may be worth a top 10 player.

        No lunch at 8:30. Your name suggests that you may have not gone to bed yet. Hence, you better check yourself in.

  • OilFan

    What about packaging Gagner in a trade ? Maybe Penner and Gagner for a low pick (3rd overall). Gagner is a 50 point guy in the NHL and my guessing won't get more ever, Penner coming off his best season.

    • Chris.

      OH yeah what a great idea…and then when that 3rd overall pick is only a 50 pt player at age 20 then we can package him too along with another good vet and get another 3rd overall pick and then when that 3rd overall pick is only a 50 pt player at age 20 we can package him along with another vet for another 3rd overall pick…and so on.

      Notice a trend here? Yah the thinking of so many Oiler fans around here is always unload vets for draft picks…and that thought process never seems to end…we're endlessly looking for draft picks and wanting to move our best players out of here.

      Gagner is a 50 pt player on a pretty bad hockey team and he's only 20 yrs old…

  • Chris.

    It's amazing to me that many of the same people who applauded the DFF (strategy?) are now surprised by some of the resulting collateral damage. It's not really that surprising that Hemsky may be reluctant to extend… is it?

    • Chris.

      The DFF could be what results in Hemsky wanting to stay….had they struggled to yet another 10th place in the west and finished without the hope of Hall or Seguin then Hemsky could really be wanting out…

      You have to admit drafting Hall or Seguin is better than being out of the playoffs and drafting 14th isn't it?

    • i'm going to agree with Crash on this one. The Oilers couldnt offer a winning club before the wheels really fell off the bus. Free Agents arent signing, and drafting in the middle positions are getting good but not great players.

      The only chance to convince Hemsky that the future is bright is if Seguin/Hall and Eberle can make an impact as rookies this coming season. If 2011/2012 begins without a new contract then it's too late. He'll be too close to UFA status not to leave.

    • Hemmertime

      "Our players are talking about it," said Tambellini. "Ales Hemsky, when we were talking in his exit meeting, he was asking about the (potential draftees). I told him 'they're probably going to ask me about you.' He said 'that's great, do you think so?' I said 'yeah, they probably will.' It's a significant building block for this organization."

      excerpt from Staples: http://www.edmontonjournal.com/sports/hockey/edmonton-oilers/Draft+could+turning+point/2921072/story.html

      DFF might give Hemmer a playing partner, it might keep him here. I do not think we should trade him unless get a top 3-4 Pick. Even then I'd likely keep him at least through this year. When Pronger demanded the trade Hemsky was the one to suggest longer length to his contract – to show its a likable place.

  • While you cannot sign an extension until the final year of the contract, you can certainly have "informal discussion" to feel a player out and ask what they think of staying and taking on a senior leadership role.

    Maybe Tambellini already talked to Hemsky and that is why he is saying what he is.

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      I hope so for his sake, in his "prime years" (4 years following the lock-out) Horcoff averaged .8PPG (roughly) = about 65 points/82 games.

      Fans have been screeming for 2 years for the guy to replace Horcoff as the #1 center, I've also never seen anyone that thought Gagner had less offensive ability then Horcoff.

      I think everyone will be pretty disapointed if Gagner doesn't put up better numbers through the prime of his career then Horcoff did.

      • OilFan

        I really hope so also. He hasn't show much more since his rookie season. I hate how he can't produce until December. Horcoff is a great checking center minus the money he makes he is still a good two way center.

  • OilFan

    Sadly, it's highly probable that Hemsky will not re-sign here. Realistically, why would he? Think of all the broken promises this guy has has been fed over and over again from the same key people in the organization.

    Just another reason why change in management is necessary. The perceived credibility of the organization hasn't just taken a hit from the fan base, but from the players, too.

  • OilFan

    The only way I would give up Hemmer is if we are getting Boston's 2nd overall pick back. At only 26 years old, I think Hemmer is just coming into his prime. A lot of people have made comments that he's already peaked and will never be more than a 70-80 point player. I don't think that's necessarily the case. Look at Henrik Sedin. In his first 7 seasons his peak was 81 pts and the whole time he was playing with probably the best complementary line mate any player could ask for in his twin sister. But look at what he did this year (9th season) in winning the Art Ross. In Hemmer's first 7 seasons he has nearly matched Henrik's production in his first 7 years (353 pts vs 378 for Henrik) while playing in significantly less games over that time. Henrik didn't become a point per game player until year 8 in the NHL and then exploded in year 9. Basically I'm saying don't give up on Hemmer just yet because I don't think he's hit his ceiling.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    Now I am all for trading Hemsky if it helps the team. With that being said I rather trade for someone with a couple years of development under their belt, rather then a pick.

    I went back to 2000 and there isn't too many years where I'd take everyone in the top 5 over Hemsky, so why take that risk? Wouldn't it be in our best interest to target some who is 22-24 that is showing that they have developed well and that they have potential to be better then Hemsky? Just wouldn't want to trade Hemsky and end up with a Cam Barker or Raffi Torres.