Where have you been Jake Taylor?
A favorite movie character of mine is Jake Taylor from the Major League movies. He is a backcatcher in the twilight of his career and he gets a call to play for the Cleveland Indians. He becomes a mentor for many of the players on the team throughout the movies.
In Major League II Jake becomes a coach. He starts working with a back catcher, Rube Baker, who is good at everything except throwing the ball back to the pitcher, the easiest skill to perform. Rube has done it a million times since he was young but something gets into his head and he can’t do it.
Jake suggests that he think of anything but throwing the ball. When he goes to throw the ball it works for Rube.
The mind is a very strong tool. I have seen it be a player’s best and worst friend.
Over the last week Ales Hemsky has shown flashes of the player he and the Oilers want him to be. The week was capped off by his first hat trick last night. What has changed?
He didn’t suddenly get his legs back after the shoulders surgeries. I haven’t noticed a spike in his ice time or the quality of the defensemen he is facing. I would suggest that like our friend Rube Baker, Ales Hemsky stopped thinking about something that was on his mind, a new contract.
With last year’s injury problems and lack of point production so far this season he may have been wondering what next year could hold for him. It would not have been the ideal summer to become an unrestricted free agent.
Reaching unrestricted status can be unsettling for a player who has not experienced it. It can be a big decision when picking a team. It can be more stressful when going into it with question marks surrounding your playing ability or durability.
With all of this in his head Hemsky may have been playing tight. With the security of a two year deal in his pocket he can now just play with a clear head. Trust me, it makes a difference.
It would have been better for Hemsky if Jake Taylor would have showed up earlier.