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.

  • Pajamah

    Hemsky, Brule and 31 for Horton, 3 and a 4th or 5th rounder??

    Does that make it doable?

    Wonder if Tambo has any groundwork with a top 5 drafting team at all, this long before the draft

    • Pajamah

      Firing a GM for lying probably doesn't happen

      but if Tambellini flaps his gums about building a team, and not chasing that big ticket guy, and then signs a guy like Kovalchuk long term, he's setting himself up to be fired

  • misfit

    I also just want to say that the comment about the debate about him being the best player on the team was probably said that way because of the great season Penner just had, and how one could make a case that Dustin is our best player.

  • Itsbitsman

    Players that have the drive to succeed put in the extra time in order to elevate their games. Players that don't put in the effort could be satisfied with their game and not see a need for improvement. Not necessarily an attitude that is conducive to success.

    • Since the Lockout Hemsky had 289 points in 313 games for .92 points per game. Horton has scored 273 points in 367 games for 0.74 points per game in the same time.

      The raw production is pretty close, but the PPG of Hemsky is way better. I think Florida wins that part of the trade hands down.

      I dont think they win by enough, though, to make up the difference between Cogliano and the 3rd overall pick.

    • Pajamah

      Get that tube of airplane model glue out of your nostril and think about what you just proposed.

      Hemsky straight up for Horton isn't that far from a saw-off in terms of production and salary. Hemsky's a tick better in PPG — .80 to .70. Horton is younger, bigger and under contract for an extra year. Florida wins that half of the trade by a little bit.

      That leaves Cogliano for the third overall pick. Unless Tambellini has photos of Randy Sexton in a bathhouse with livestock, that isn't close.

      • Which is why I said Hemsky, Cogliano +.

        So you think there's no chance at some groundwork there? I just came back to throw the 31st in there as the + before anyone saw it… I take it that's still not gonna get it done. I like Horton (and am not an Oil fan), but I figured Hemsky for Horton was a bit further apart then you have them. I agree it would be a no-brainer for Tambo, but I was hoping for some reaction from some peeps saying "no way Oilers would make that trade"… kinda like picking a fight, y'know.

        ~Thanks for taking all the fun out before the "morons" showed their faces~

        I think dangling Hemsky at the draft is the smart thing to do… especially if you can move into the top 5.

        Back to the glue for me, though, lol.

          • Ya okay there pal. Tryna get back on Brownlee's good side, I see. Trust me, it'll take more than that. As you can see, there's already peeps questioning why you'd wanna trade Hemsky or Cogliano, yet the only trade scenario involving them was the FLA one I tossed out… which was the point -people don't want to trade these guys, even in trade proposals that favor the Oil.

          • OilFan

            Why I'm on his bad side ? Oh yeah lol he still thinks I'm someone else. Either way I think we need to trade Cogs but not sure for who.As for Hemsky ? I haven't looked at next seasons draft prospects but i think they should keep him one more season to help with the rookies.

  • Players have wanted out of Ottawa. Two players in the last 2 years have wanted out of Montreal. It's not just Edmonton. Way to go overboard with that comment. Tambi meant the team struggled when Hemsky went down.

  • Muji 狗

    Hemsky would probably command about $5M on the open market.
    That's how much Havlat makes; I think he compares similarly to Hemsky.

    Anyway, I agree with Willis.

    Tambellini doesn't seem to have a good grasp on this team AT ALL. He's shooting down Hemsky, not acknowledging his "toughness", praising Khabi (his DUI is great leadership I guess), and praising a player that's not even NHL caliber (Jacques).

    He's either lying to us or is WAY OFF on his assessment of this team. And, considering the fact that he's been assessing this team since 1934, that's a scary though.

    • Itsbitsman

      I don't think he shot down Hemsky, he just didn't praise him. He is skilled but his attitude is what he is questioning which I think is fair considering he is always the first one of the ice at practice.

      I do agree with you about the praise for Khabbi though.

      JFJ is NHL calibre but in a fourth line role and not anywhere else. He skates well, is a big body and plays physical. The big concern is that he seems to be injured all of the time.

  • misfit

    Come on Willis. Haven't we been through enough with players lately? Maybe Hemsky isn't in the Oilers' plans, or maybe the Oilers aren't in Ales' plans, but I really don't want to think about this team sans Hemsky.

  • Ender

    Datsyuk and Hemsky play thoroughly different games. Datsyuk plays more like Horcoff. He engages quickly along the boards when there is a scrum and he's very good at coming away with the puck.

    Hemsky will almost always go in deep to retrieve the pick, or risk a hit to make a play or pass, but he usually leaves mucking and board battles to his linemates. When he does engage it's not a particular strength of his.

    That might have brought on the comparison to Datsyuk. Although I'm not sure why Tambellini says Datsyuk isn't physically strong. He's quite strong and is reportedly a gym rat.

  • Ender

    In the end I don't know if it matters. Hemsky is a trasitional teammate. I'd love him to be around for the next season or two but I can't see him here by the time we're competitive again. Once his current contract expires, even if we we're on good terms with him we'd never get the same affordable contract out of him. Someone is going to give him $7-8M on the open market and I doubt we'll be the highest bidder at that point.

    Enjoy him while he's here, Citizens. He'll signify the changing of the guard for sure once he's gone.

    • Ender

      Not a chance Hemsky gets $7-8 million on the open market IMO unless he has at least a 90+ point season before his contract is done. If he's worth that much, I say trade him in this paltry UFA market for a top 8 draft pick.

      • Ender

        OK, $8M is a stretch. Have a look at players like Gomez and Drury though; their cap hit is $7M or better and they're putting up numbers that aren't any better than Hemmer's. On the UFA market, someone will be dumb enough to roll the dice on a big signing. I hope it's not the Oilers.

  • Milli

    I don't know that Hemsky is in the long term plan. It could be that Tambo does not think that he will re-sign, it could also be that they (mgmt) are not that happy with him. For a few years we've all talked about him taking the next step, becoming a star, and he really has never done it. That said, there is no doubt that he makes anyone he plays with better. I think it will come down to weather he is prepared to re-sign and for how much.

  • Hemsky wouldn't be the first high skilled player with an attitude problem. Also Datsyuk is a much better player than Hemsky. And I know what everyone's going to argue, that he has a better supporting cast. But taking out the surrounding rosters that play with these two guys just look at their individual game. Datsyuk backchecks and forechecks consistently, always keeps a busy stick, and is always reading and analyzing the play in front of him. Hemsky rarely backchecks or forechecks, at times he takes shifts off and sometimes seems disinterested. In an earlier blog on this site everyone kept saying you cannot deal Hemsky but I'd argue against that because the team has to determine whether Hemsky is truly a franchise player and not just a very high skilled complimentary player. At this time he's more the latter than the former and shelling out big money for support players is a mistake. ie. see Calgary
    I know Oilers fans are kind of scared because the loss of that skill would be hard to replace but looking at the young guys coming up in Svensson, (Hall/Seguin), Eberle, etc. I think that they have the prospects to take Hemsky's spot once the team has become relevant again because let's face it by the time Hemsky's contract ends we are not going to be a cup contender, we will still be rebuilding.

    PS Tambellini and Lowe should be fired but not because of Hemsky. They have not properly developed their prospects and their AHL club. Teams like Washington and Detroit have their farm clubs adher to a philosophy(in terms of playing style and team structure) similar to their NHL clubs and that is what has led to a fairly seamless transition for their prospects when they get the call up. Also from Souray's comments you have to think there's some kind of truth there as Souray was genuinely excited to come here and the players that do play here like the city and the fans. But why do players keep wanting to leave? I mean cities like Detroit, Chicago, Minnesota and Buffalo to name a few aren't exactly gorgeous cities either, a city is a city. The fact that so many players seem unhappy has got to have something to do with the way the organization is run as the most common complaint of any employee is about their bosses and how their company is run.

  • Itsbitsman

    Most of us have been burnt in the past on advertising and the image they so called project . Very seldom if ever does the product live up to sales pitch,image or hype . Most expect sales pitch not to add up , and we do "due dilligence "and research to critique rather than get burned by misleading claims and advertising . Tambo is not much different – more hype than substance . The entire organization has a revolving door of players exiting our club for reasons that are evident . This trend is epidemic ,and no end in sight, until management learns how to effectively develop and manage more than one type of player! I find the Oilers past and present have a nasty habit of running valuable assets out of town with players having a "sour taste in their mouths " from their experience here . Enough of player bashing (running them all down ) to explain managements action .

  • Chris.

    Hemsky is a really skilled player… but shift to shift, game to game, competative consistancy is not his strong point.

    That said, if Tambnellini wants to purge this team of some inconsistant, smaller, softer players… Hemsky should be the last of about 10 others to go.

    • Ender

      I was upset when I read this article and am concerned about the perception I have about how poor management seems to be with its own players.

      That said, if Tamby's comments imply he doesn't see Hemmer in the Oilers' long-term plans, Hemsky may have the most trade cache and therefore might make the most sense in moving in a rebuild where Hemsky may not want to be once his contract is up.

      In the end though, devaluing your assets (albeit perhaps unintentional) doesn't seem smart. Wise up, Tamby!

      PS – has anyone yet heard Tamby say HE needs to be better also?

  • Gerald R. Ford

    Hemsky may never be the player that the Oilers (and The Nation) want him to be, but to imply, even subtly that there's *any* doubt as to whether he's the best player on Team Suck is pretty ludicrous. And not especially encouraging for those of us desperately trying to give Tambo the benefit of the doubt.

  • Chris.

    If I didn't already think Steve Tambellini deserved to be fired, I'd say that "if he's alienating Hemsky and doesn't realize what a good player he is, he deserves to be fired."

  • Hemsky is one of my favorite players, but when you look at some of the baggage he brings with him, ask yourself if you want that rubbing off of Hall/Svenson/Eberle on so on. First one off the ice after practice, never stays after to work on personal things, avoids the media. Now compare this to say a presence in the room like Messier who actually raises the bar on the others in the dressing room, and makes everyone accountable. Some of Hemmers personal traits are very 'me first' instead of team first, I believe this is the attitude the Oilers are looking to purge. If we could make a good deal for Hemsky that also brings back skill, plus leadership and accountability to boot I don't see how we can't make that trade.

  • @ HBomb:

    I've got no issues with Hemsky's courage, but if the team has other concerns about him I can see why they wouldn't want to praise his character.

    That said, why skip an opportunity to say nice things about a guy like Hemsky? It can't hurt to give him a little ego-boost now and then.