What we heard today from Edmonton Oilers GM Craig MacTavish and Ales Hemsky was a combination of pure spin and putting the best foot forward for the sake of public consumption.

After suggesting it might be time for Hemsky and former captain Shawn Horcoff to move along after being beaten down by seven years of losing, and successfully unloading Horcoff to Dallas, MacTavish told media summoned to Rexall Place that No. 83 was off the trading block.

What MacTavish didn’t say was that Hemsky is off the block and back in Edmonton because he didn’t get anything resembling what the Oilers deemed a reasonable return for the unquestionably talented Czech winger. That the market for him was, at best, minimal. I deemed it, essentially, zero.

For his part, Hemsky, who looked as comfortable as the lone man in the office getting dragged along to a company lunch with 20 of his female co-workers, went along, saying he was happy to be back and would do his utmost to be a better player and more of a leader.

What Hemsky didn’t say today is he’d still welcome a move to a new address because all the defeat and losing in Edmonton has worn him down, as MacT suggested it had months ago. That he’d play along for the sake of appearance, hoping that a hot 20-30 games to start this season might bump his value and produce a ticket out of town.

What else did you expect?


With the Oilers making it known for at least the last couple of seasons that Hemsky has been available, and given his suggestion a chance in scenery might be the best thing for Hemsky and the Oilers this off-season with no serious takers, MacTavish doesn’t have a lot of options. He picked the best one today.

Yes, it’s spin, but today’s staged kiss-and-make-up routine is better than having an asset like Hemsky sit on the sidelines or feel like he’s on the outside looking in as he diminishes in value. There is no upside to that, as we saw with the clumsy handling of Sheldon Souray by ousted GM Steve Tambellini.

Thus, we got talk today about the possibility Hemsky could be a valuable piece of the puzzle moving forward. I don’t buy it, at least not for any period beyond the next trade deadline, but, like a politician stuck in an unhappy marriage at election time, better to put on a united front until the polls close before calling in the lawyers to draw up the divorce papers.

There is a win-win scenario here and that happens if Hemsky stays engaged in the process and tears it up like he can until enough pro scouts from the 29 other NHL teams conclude that he’s not only capable of staying healthy, but returning to productivity. If that happens, Hemsky might get his ticket out of town and the Oilers might get a return that makes some sense.

But off the block? My eye.


. . . With the rookies set to get started in Penticton Thursday, we’ll get our first look at Oscar Klefbom, who, at least right now, is the best of a pretty good crop of young blueliners looking to impress. Darnell Nurse will get his share of the spotlight to be sure, but Klefbom’s pursuit of a roster spot now through main camp is what has my attention.

. . . As assistant coach Steve Smith told Jason Gregor and I today, Anton Belov is having some problems with his visa and delays will see him miss the start of training camp. Right now, we don’t have any more details than that, as in when he’ll arrive, but not a good start for the 27-year-old Russian.


Oilersnation readers not only have a chance to contribute to a very worthwhile charity, Walk A Mile In Her Shoes, they have the opportunity to see Jason Gregor sashaying around publicly in pumps and a dress (as he occasionally does in the privacy of his own home on weekends) if they open up their wallets between now and Monday.

Here’s the skinny:

If fans of The Nation and listeners of the Jason Gregor Show donate $2,000 to the charity through the link I’ll provide, Gregor will do his thing at The Walk A Mile In Her Shoes event wearing a Trisha Pasnak Infiniti dress (and pumps, of course).

If donations reach $3,000 in Gregor’s name, he’ll shave his legs. If we raise $4,000, he’ll get his legs waxed before donning the dress and pumps. If donations reach $6,000, Gregor will be dragged kicking and screaming for a full Brazilian wax job – you know, "down there."

Donations can be made HERE.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

  • shanetrain

    As far as I am concerned this is all moot.

    We should have traded Hemsky 4 years ago when he was worth something valuable.


    Stuck with him.

    No way does he thrive with the kids eating his minutes.

    Sulk, sulk, odd brilliant moment, injury.

  • pkam

    Props to MacT for turning the Hemsky thing into something positive……….turning lemons into lemonaide.

    I cant help but wonder just how difficult Mac T has made Eakins job now with all the additions. Exactly where will all the role players play? We have enough one way contracts to field six lines?

    I guess it’s a nice problem to have if you are a GM……..but a coach?

  • pkam

    Robin….I have admired your writing style and command of the English language for a long time. However, I was amazed that in the quote below you use the subject “I” when ‘me’ was required. The verb ‘told’ requires an object. Keep up the good job.

    As assistant coach Steve Smith told Jason Gregor and I today, Anton Belov is having some problems with his visa and delays will see him miss the start of training camp. Right now, we don’t have any more details than that, as in when he’ll arrive, but not a good start for the 27-year-old Russian.

  • Spydyr

    spydyr wrote “Spin pure spin.

    Brownlee is right. Still it sure beats the poop out of the Souray debacle.

    Let us hope he lights it up early trying for a spot at the Olympics, does not get hurt. Then he can be traded for one of the many missing pieces later in the year.”

    Ok the spin is done, now play the games. What if Hemsky is lighting it up and the oilers are winning, do you still want to trade the most dynamic part of the 3rd line that is doing this? I wouldn’t, I think this is a great experiment and am anxious to see how it unfolds. Hemmer, Omark, Gordon.

    • Spydyr

      Yes, I would trade my third line winger and another asset to fix a more pressing need for the team.

      Say a complete number two center or a top pairing defenseman.

      You have to give up quality to get quality.

    • pkam

      I like to keep Hemsky but lets be real, we can’t afford a 3rd line at 9M, and Hemsky won’t resign with us for less than 4M.

      If Hemsky gets healthy (which I expect) and is willing to sign with us long term for 3.5M, then it is a no-brainer. Otherwise, get as much as we can at the trade deadline.

      • Bucknuck

        Until we know the details of the new Salary cap, statements of “we can’t afford x” don’t hold much water. Let’s see how much wiggle room there is at the end of the year.

  • 2004Z06

    Personally I don’t want to see DSF go away. Love how he riles you guys up! I enjoy watching you all trash the hell out of him regardless of whether his post has merit or not.

    I personally enjoy a non Kool-Aid drinking view here. How lame would this site be if all the posts were rosy, sunshine filled drivel all the time?

    Challenge of the status quo is a good thing. We need more of it and less sense of entitlement in todays world.

  • DSF

    Would also gladly take the bet that you propose that clarkson never scores 30 goals a season for any year in Toronto

    Only problem is I want you off this site much sooner than 8 years and Hemsky vs. clarkson will get you off by next season. C’mon big shot, take the bet.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      You have too little at risk. A half hearted crow eating fest. Give DSF something to shoot for.

      Loser picks up the production/screening costs of the next batch of the charitable Oilersnation t-shirts/hoodies. To burn a screen, ink and labour, you’re looking at 400-500 dollars.

      This hatchet race to get at DSF looks to have been turned up a notch this year. Without DSF here for many to slag, where would people go to trash someone so they can feel better about themselves?

      • He could pick the terms if he wanted to, but he never responds when the other end of the deal is that he stop posting on this site.

        I don’t trash him to feel good about myself, and such an implication is foolish at best. Maybe you come on this site to feel better about yourself, but then if you are an Oilers fan, you must be a masochist… I am a proud Oiler fan, and I know there was not a lot to be proud about over the last 6-7 years. I would argue that Oiler fans in general (and I hate speaking in generalities) are quite intelligent and well-meaning, and do engage in debate in meaningful ways on a variety of sites, which as a whole, constitute one of the best collection of opinions offered for any NHL team. Agreed?

        I don’t need some a**hole know it all whose comments border on insanity tell sensible Oiler fans what there is to dislike about this team. Especially when he speaks in hyperbole. I don’t need to come on here and have every conversation dominated by someone who always wants the last word and the wrong word on any matter Oilers. It is a joke, frankly. I challenge him to this bet so that if I win (and healthy Hemsky vs Clarkson is no contest), we do not have to put up with his BS any longer. It completely detracts from the point of this site, and while it is within his right of free speech, it impinges upon the rights of other fans to engage in productive conversation.

        He continues to cower away from any challenges. I know now and have evidence from several exchanges that when he is challenged with facts, he produces irrelevant ones or backs away. He has done the latter today.

        But thanks dude for your insight, I bet you are a forensic pscyhologist by day.

  • pkam

    Things are getting a little nasty and personal on oilersnation. Not surprising it centres on the enigma, Ales Hemsky, a player that is projected to be on the third line if he can stay injury-free and will likely be an UFA next year, unless traded.

    The other player that brings the same heated controversy among posters is Sam Gagner.

    The fans of these players apparently believe that any criticism whatsoever is hateful and totally undeserved. Why is this?

    • 2004Z06

      I have no hate for Ales Hemsky, I have always respected him for the fact that he has sacrificed a lot for the Oilers.

      My comments were directed towards a few readers interpretation of Brownlee’s article.

      My point was that his opinion was understandable based on the facts as we currently know them.

      As with Spector’s articles, Brownlee’s opinion can be polarizing.

      While everyone is entitled to an opinion, people should respect that the writers on ON provide us with the fodder we comment on here daily.

      Bashing any of them for their opinion is disrespectful considering the fact that without them, the site wouldn’t exist.

    • Those are the only two options; get traded or become a UFA.

      It is not criticism if it is always assumptions of negative nature, that is hate. No one says it is undeserved as long as it is based on fact, and not on an if.

  • Eddie Shore

    I’m sick of hearing Spector et al piss and moan how Hemsky is always first off the ice. He’s been in this league for 10 years, I doubt he is all of sudden going to change his ways. Get over it already.

  • For those of you who are having trouble understanding DSF, he has created his own language, called DSelFish

    While he continues to post comments that most of us who are unfamiliar with this language do not understand, I think I will try to help us decipher it every now again. Let me present DSFish encyclopedia, entry #1:

    1) Mediocre – 1st round draft pick who has scored less than NHL 260 pts by the age of 24, less than 9 points in an NHL game, less than 4 Oilers franchise records, and has less than 2 gold and 2 silver medals representing Canada in international play.
    2) Clarkson – a 4th line player who has never had more than 16 assists in a season. See also: player who is worth $5 million per season. See also: player who is worth more than any Oiler who has won an olympic medal, a WC gold, helped lead a team to game 7 of SCF, and has scored 0.82 ppg over the last 8 seasons/467 games played.
    3) Oiler NHLE (relative to NJD players) – 0.528 (pts/game), 0.38 (career pts)
    4) Minnesota prospect – see also: Sidney Crosby or Nicklas Lidstrom
    5) The need to give one’s head a shake – warranted when someone rationally believes that a skilled Oiler with a great NHL resume is more valuable to his team than a “gritty” forward with a one year track record and a new 37 million contract that has prevented his team from re-signing Kadri.
    6) Brian Burke – see: Messiah
    7) “I’ll wager that” – I’ll wager nothing when called out.
    8) “not much” – when referred to a Canadian player, refers to any such player who was not invited to 2014 Canadian Olympic orientation camp. also see: Iginla, also see: Jamie Benn, also see: Ribeiro, Moulson, Kadri, Pacioretty, Nugent-Hopkins
    9) Oilers NHLE (

  • 9) Oilers NHLE (less than 25 years old, relative to rest of league): to be reduced by yet to be determined factor, secondary to “inflated point totals by Oilers out of desperate need by team to sell tickets”)
    10) “Desperation to sell tickets” – refers to non-existent needs of a team whose franchise has missed the playoffs for 6 years and still sells out every home game
    11) “long history of mediocre captains” – when reference is to an NHL team, a team whose captains have included the 2 career leading points scorers. Also see: team whose captains (F & D) have produced 0.84 points per game while adorning the “C.”