You can predict some of this Oilers season by what’s being discussed in the media, and predict a lot more by what isn’t making news.
No NHL team likes to reveal too much about their personnel and for the most part that makes good sense. Injuries, maturity issues (these are very young men) small dents in the local infrastructure and infighting are far from the news of the day and for good reason. It’s nobody’s damn business, and Oiler fans know that once something becomes public knowledge the implications often go in a bad direction (Jason Arnott, anyone?).
The Oilers organization has doled out the news stories in predictable fashion but so far I haven’t been able to find a published answer about Ales Hemsky’s contract situation. In a perfect world, the conversation might go like this:
- Where is the Ales Hemsky contract situation? (answer: no discussion).
- Why is there no discussion? (answer: it isn’t a priority).
- Why isn’t it a priority? (answer: because the organization wants to make sure he’s healthy).
- What is the priority? (answer: the arena. WHERE have you been?).
- When he shows he’s healthy, then they’ll sign him? (answer: maybe).
- What else could it be? (answer: other teams might want to make sure he’s healthy before trading for him).
- Why would the Oilers trade Hemsky? (answer: salary and term, plus all the expensive kids coming along who will need contracts soon).
- Are they seriously going to trade him? (answer: maybe).
- What would give us an indication they are serious about keeping him? (answer: aside from a press conference announcing the signing, any kind of media report that the two sides–GM and player–are talking about a contract).
- Has anyone asked the question? (answer: maybe).
- Has anyone talked about Hemsky’s contract in the MSM lately? Jim Matheson discussed it here and there may have been references I’ve not seen. Most of the conversation about Hemsky has focused on his health–understandable, and yet the contract is also a worthy story.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
It’s important to examine everything closely. Since the Paul Coffey trade, Edmonton Oiler fans have learned to take any news involving contracts very seriously. Oiler fans closely examine the issues, parsing every word for meaning. Even when there are no words, Oiler fans tend to interpret the silence.
My interpretation? I don’t think Ales Hemsky is going to be here after the trade deadline. I’d love to hear about initial contract discussions but the crickets are deafening.