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?
NOT MANY OPTIONS
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.
THIS AND THAT . . .
. . . 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.
PUMPS AND A DRESS FOR GREGOR
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.