Hard Nose the Highway

Put your money where your mouth is
Then we can get something going
In order to win you must be prepared to lose sometime
And leave one or two cards showing

Seen some hard times
Drawn some bad lines
No time for shoeshines
Hard Nose the Highway


The news today (Hemsky out for a month) is not welcome. Ales Hemsky’s (increasing) list of injuries have all kinds of impact on the Oilers and their future: should you sign a brittle player to another long term deal? How much does this impact his trade value? Will it force him to change his style of play?

First things first.

In the interview that got him sent to Chocolate land, Sheldon Souray said the following:

  • "I wasn’t even ready to play when I came here, but it was like, ‘We signed you, you go out and play.’ I hadn’t been cleared to play yet, but I was being questioned by the organization: ‘When are you going to be able to play?’ I go out, play six games, and I get hurt."

Have the Oilers changed their ways? Hemsky played on the road trip, but then didn’t play against the Leafs. He was also scratched against St. Louis. Coach Renney in Toronto:

  • "At this point in time, I would say Ales is doubtful. We’ve got to protect our athletes, it’s a long season, there’s a lot of work to do, I’ll be prudent with him.”

That sounds better than the old timey "Hey Mike Grier, just throw that shoulder back in would you? There’s a penalty to kill" days of the early 00’s. It would appear as though the organization is learning from past errors and that is good news.

Oilers have a couple of choices in terms of recall. Linus Omark and Liam Reddox are having fine seasons, and offer a nice variety of skills. If Ryan Jones can score enough goals to play on the Gagner line, perhaps Reddox can help the PK and add energy and speed to the 4line. If not, then it’s time for Linus.

Ryan O’Marra is another option. He might help on the PK and in the faceoff circle. Since the Oilers have a tremendous need in that area, it should at least be considered.

Ales Hemsky is at the point of his career where we can safely use the phrase "injury prone" when mentioning him. It could have major impact on the organization as they make their decisions moving forward.

Do you prefer Hemsky for 40-65 games a season or a healthy Dustin Penner?

I believe Ales Hemsky is a wonderful player, but from this point on the idea of signing him to a long term deal must be questioned by the organization. He’s brittle, and that’s a fact. Can he change his playing style and remain effective? Have no idea. But we do know that NHL salary caps are riddled with lost soldiers who signed long term deals and then couldn’t answer the bell.

This injury is more serious than the number of games Hemsky will miss. This injury could change the course of the organization moving forward.


  • Itsbitsman

    To all the CBA experts:

    Someone on Gregor’s show yesterday said that Omark would have to clear waivers if he was sent back down after he was called up.

    It was because of pro-games played and he said European games counted.

    I couldn’t listen to the end of the show and was curious if this was a correct interpretation of the CBA.


  • Chaz

    I will gladly defer to anyone who can answer this question, but is a wonky groin really a sign that Hemmer’s injury-prone? Really? Is that a “chronic” injury – like a knee or a shoulder or a hip?

    Isn’t that more of a muscle injury which, over time, heals just like new?

    I’m asking because I don’t know.

    Anyway, to answer Lowetide’s other question: Yes, you absolutely re-sign Hemmer over Penner because I’d rather have 40-60 entertaining games of artistry instead of 10 games of dominance, 20 games of mild interest and 50 games complete indifference.

  • Me thinks (Lowtide) your overreacting somewhat…I think you need an anti-depressant or maybe a cup of coffee.
    Lets see, ummm we have gone on a 4 game winning streak of which part of that is without Hemmer and what? we tear our hair out and stamp our feet? I think we can survive this… go into the corner with your blankie and relax.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      This is what he’s here to do. He floats an idea, addresses both sides of the scenario, then he leaves the sheep here to start gnawing on each others arses till they start to bleed.

      I have a shot for that so it won’t get infected if you’d like?

    • Lowetide

      It’s a little more important than the immediate future.

      Hemsky is a wonderful player, love watching him as an Oiler and the idea of 83 leaving town isn intolerable.

      However, the Oilers rebuild means that some players are going to have to be left behind. Hemsky would be my top priority unless there’s a threat of injury.

      If his agent asks for a $55M, 10 year deal, would you consider it? Until last season I certainly would have signed it without thinking about it.

      I’m still inclined to sign a shorter deal at $5.5 (say 4 years). However, his injury history is a warning bell.

      • John Chambers

        My thought is that this depends entirely on who the Oilers could possibly get back in a trade deadline deal.

        Teams like Los Angeles, Detroit, Boston, and even Atlanta may deal quality prospects like Brayden Schenn, Jakub Kindl, Tobias Enstrom, or TO’s #1 draft pick to acquire Hemsky for a playoff run + a year. If you can make a deal to acquire a can’t miss young player, then due to Hemmer’s recent injuries I think the Oilers have to lean toward re-building with an asset they acquired from trading Hemsky.

        If you can’t swing that deal, the Oilers should bite the bullet and look to re-sign Hemmer to a 4- or 5-year contract extension. We can’t afford to let him go for free, but I’d rather overpay ($5M a year plus) than have him signed for anything longer than 6 years.

        • can’t miss young player

          Doesn’t exist for the most part. There’s still so many factors that go into a player’s development that nobody outside of Crosby or Ovechkin is a lock. And if said player did exist, why would any team give that up?

          • John Chambers

            Not to sound like an ass, Ricky, but you don’t think there’s such thing as a young player with an impressive enough pedigree that they’re basically a lock to make it to the NHL and be almost certain to have a top-6 impact?

            What’s the point of scouting and the draft order if that wasn’t the case? Was Tyler Seguin not more likely than Tyler Pitlick to be an impact player in the show?

            One of my favorite hockey websites is hockeysfuture.com. I spend more time that I’d like to admit naval-gazing about potential up-and-comers who the Oilers should target to be part of the re-build.

            To your point – you can’t forecast what any player will do in the future. But you have to admit that the Bostons and LA’s of the world have a window that they can compete for a cup, and would be willing to deal some of their future potential in exchange for guys like Hemsky or Penner who can help put them over the top now.

          • Maybe look at it this way. If the Oilers were a team looking at a deep playoff run at the beginning of the year, would they have traded Jordan Eberle for a Dustin Penner or Ales Hemsky type? The question is how much they’d be giving up for how much they’d get.

            Seems to me that “lock” top-six rookie is doing almost as good as the guy you’d be trading for right now. How good would that young player be at the end of the year, when the guy you’d be trading for would hopefully have his highest value? Would that difference be enough to trade away the young player’s next 5 years when he’d certainly be a better long-term asset.

            Maybe my point is that (in my opinion) neither Penner or Hemsky is worth enough for a team to give up a sure-fire top six player that’ll do you much more good over the long run. The negligible difference in current player ability would be the deciding factor.

      • positivebrontefan

        Now you make a valid statement. I totally agree that Hemmer’s injuries are a concern but at the same time a 4 year deal would be a legitimate offer. hemsky brings a lot of culture to this team in the way of movement and finesse that I think would be missed if we let him walk but I guess that is up to him and his agent to decide

  • Lowetide

    Here’s the thing, remember when we couldnt re-sign our stars, and they went elsewhere, and we regretted it forever? I’m looking at Guerin, Weight, Arnie, Smytty. If we don’t re-sign Hemsky, then guess what? Once we get good, we are going to go out and make a ridiculous 12 year offer to a Hossa or Kovalchuk, and you think they don’t get injured or dissapoint you?

    Put me down for a re-sign Hemsky on a 6 year term. Boom.

  • Without question Hemsky should be traded. We all love to watch “dangles” but fancy dekes mixed in with lots of turnovers and injuries does not lead a hockey team anywhere. If Hemmer was ACTUALLY going to become the player we need him to be, he would have been wearing the C for a few seasons already. Time to quit the waiting and the kidding of ourselves and get maximum return as soon as possible, because with every year we wait, the more injuries pile up and the less potential every other team sees in him. Love the kid, but time to move him for the best interest of the Edmonton Oilers. And as frustrating as Penner is to watch play so inconsistent, trust me, he is the one we will need come playoff hockey, whenever that may be.

    • I am not trying to start a fight, but do you actually watch the games?

      If you can not see that Hemsky has become an excellent two-way player without sacrificing much of his offense, I don’t know what to say.

      Turnovers that happen 200 feet from your own net trying to create a scoring chance are totally acceptable. Please tell me the last time Hemsky has turned the puck over that has directly resulted in an opposition scoring chance?

      +/- is an interesting stat (and not always useful), but as bad as this team has been for the last few years – Hemsky is a plus player in each of the last 3 seasons.

      And as far your comment about playoff performance, do you not recall all the the clutch goals that Hemsky scored during the last cup run (and to get them into the playoffs)?

      As far as Hemsky being a leader, the staff had a chance to put the “C” and “A” on any player(s) they wanted. They gave Hemsky a letter (while taking it away from other another player). If Hemsky wasn’t a leader they wouldn’t have given him the “A”.

      • Crash

        Props from me on this statement, took the words right out of my mouth.

        I’m all in for giving Hemsky a 5 or 6 yr extension.

        Hemsky is exactly what a good playoff team needs, he’s clutch and doesn’t disappear in the big games. When this team becomes a playoff team Hemsky will be needed. Why would you get rid of this?

        If he misses a few regular season games per year, so be it.

  • positivebrontefan

    I think with the limelight turning towards the kids who seem to relish in it, Hemsky might start to relax and play better. He just doesnt seem to dig being the “go to guy”. If Hemmer can just relax and play his game I think we’ll see a huge difference in his game.

  • Anyone that outright dismisses the claims Souray made about being pushed back into service, while still recovering, seriously need to look at the injuries this team has sustained in the past decade.

    How many times has a guy missed a game or two and then drawn back in only to repeat the same injury and be out longer term?

    Stoll – concussion
    Hemsky – pick one
    Horcoff – busted shoulder
    Staios – concussion

    The answer is WAY TOO MANY TIMES!!!! It’s ridiculous. There is a good reason we likely top the list of man games lost to reinjury and it’s not because Smac wasn’t in the lineup.

    While I would not take Souray’s statements at 100%, I would not take the Oiler spin machine version either. Somewhere in the middle is the truth and surely the majority of you have enough sense to realize that.

    After his 60+ point campaign there were mutterings of him looking like a great leader for this group. A year later he’s a cancer…It’s crap. Souray flipped the bird to little men with big egos and little men buried him, not for the best interest of the team but because they wanted him gone. Seriously, what does this management have to do to get the last of you off board?