WHAT THE HELL HEMSKY?

There is a large segment of Oilers Nation that never did buy in to Ales Hemsky as a hockey player. Despite sick hands and incredible creativity, Hemsky’s heart has always been questioned in certain circles. The most recent example is this week, when it was revealed that 83 has been playing through pain for much of the season. Despite that revelation, the major issue with Hemsky this week is media availability. What the hell, Hemsky?

The last time Edmonton was any good, Ales Hemsky was front and center. In the spring of 2006, he was a major part of the team’s offense as they romped through the western conference, leaving favorites on the sidelines all down the line.

2006 PLAYOFF LEADING SCORERS (OILERS)

  1. Chris Pronger 5-16-21
  2. Shawn Horcoff 7-12-19
  3. Fernando Pisani 14-4-18
  4. Ales Hemsky 6-11-17
  5. Ryan Smyth 7-9-16
  6. Sergei Samsonov 4-11-15
  7. Jaroslav Spacek 3-11-14
  8. Michael Peca 6-5-11
  9. Raffi Torres 4-7-11
  10. Jarret Stoll 4-6-10

Hemsky is one of a trio of Oilers who remain Oilers (Ryan Smyth had a period away from the team, as you know) and is young enough to be a "mentor" and leader for the young generation should the Oilers choose to retain him.

YOU GOTTA HAVE HEART

This week, Hemsky’s season (which has been uneven, by eye and by math) was cast in a  new light when it was revealed he’s been playing through injury. The Edmonton Journal’s excellent Joanne Ireland has the story here, and the money quote is this:

  • Ralph Krueger: “It’s gotten worse so it’s time for a break. He was showing a lot of courage. He was there for the team. Kudos to him for trying to play through it.”

Sitting Hemsky is basically confirmation from the Oilers that the season is lost, the time for pushing those who are genuinely hurt is gone, and that string is being run out. Ireland’s quoting of Hemsky talking about not making excuses is textbook hockey player, they’re a tough bunch and any fan worth his salt knows it.

WHAT THE HELL HEMSKY?

Unless there’s something more. There has always been a disconnect between player and media (most recently expressed here) and Hemsky’s time in Edmonton has certainly included some issues with the mainstream media. 99% of the quotes offered by hockey players the world over are file 13 material, and I credit those who do the hard work of finding something interesting from a locker room trained to give them nothing at all.

My own feeling is this: Ales Hemsky has been a sublime talent during his NHL career with the Oilers, and has taken a "hometown discount" at least twice during his career in order to stay in Edmonton. His interviews are not earth shattering, but he seems to be forthright and honest when questioned (as he was in the Ireland piece) on an issue.

I don’t give a damn if the msm doesn’t get timely Hemsky time, nor (I believe) shoud the fanbase. If the Oilers want Hemsky to refrain from talking to the media about an injury, and have chosen his treatment time to coincide with those avails, more power to them. It’s also possible a player like Ales Hemsky observed the Sheldon Souray fiasco and decided to steer clear of a misstep using a second language.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

Ales Hemsky has struggled this season, and we found out this week injuries once again are an issue. I think it’s fair to suggest the Oilers have to weigh his ability to stay in the lineup as a huge item in the consideration of retaining him beyond his current contract.

Beyond that, I don’t see an issue. There are no measurements for "heart" beyond the numbers we already have, and on the list of things I’d like Ales Hemsky to do speaking to the media on time is so far down the list you can’t find it.

Ales Hemsky has no heart? I understand it’s an argument some will make, but it’s also true that the last time this club had anything to play for the kid from Pardubice was front and center.

Maybe some of us have memories that don’t go back that far. Maybe that’s something for us to work on.

Lowetide at High Noon goes at 12pm today on Team 1260. Scheduled to appear:

  • Former Edmonton Oiler Doug Hicks, who is part of a huge fundrasier for Alzheimer’s that involves you, playing with former NHLers and a weekend of fun.
  • James Mirtle from the Globe and Mail. We’ll talk Leafs, Randy Carlyle’s unusual decisions, Oilers and trade deadline
  • Michael Parkatti, Boys on the Bus. Michael’s shot differential numbers have been an excellent guide to the season, and we’ll ask his opinion of men like Ryan Whitney, Sam Gagner and Ales Hemsky.
  • Bruce McCurdy from Cult of Hockey: We’ll talk trade deadline, Oilers in the summer and Curtis Lazar.
  • Corey Graham, pbp man for the Oil Kings. I’ll ask Corey about the amazing run for the Oil Kings this spring, the job ahead for the team and get a prospect update on names like Gernat and Musil.

Hope you can tune in, best way to get questions and comments to our guests is on twitter @Lowetide_ or in the comments section below.

  • Randaman

    So you want him to be available so you (the media) can ask why he is always injured? or does he regret not getting traded for the third straight year? Get my point? Ask hockey questions and maybe he would be available instead of getting raked over the coals all the time.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    As soon as we seen Ales take that puck off the foot on that 9 gm road trip I sorta had an inkling there must be a hairline fracture somewhere in that foot. I think he only missed a game iirc. Figure he’s playing through the pain of playing with a hairline fracture. They should take another polaroid of that foot. It might show up now.

    I’d still try to move him though if we could get back a piece the Oilers need.

  • bazmagoo

    I’ve always liked Hemsky but just can’t see where he fits in anymore. Oilers need to get bigger and more aggressive in their top 6 in order to be competitive and I think it’s Hemsky who goes. Gagner is too young, too competitive, too hard working, too much part of the young guns to trade. Don’t think we’ll get much for Hemsky, my guess is a 2nd round pick at the 2014 trade deadline.

  • Death Metal Nightmare

    i wish we actually could be having arguments right now about “heart”. it would be telling us that this team was competing on a game-by-game basis while actually executing fundamentally sound HOCKEY ACTIONS.

    this team can barely make clean tape to tape passes, break out of a zone without getting hemmed in for entire shifts, kill plays with terrible / slow puck decisions in all zones, over passing, contrived “dangles”, being out shot by insane margins, etc, etc…

    F the “heart” arguments.

  • kawi460

    My problem with Hemsky, is his stupid stick, his blade is so small that he can hardly recieve a pass, or win a puck battle for a loose puck…Once he has the puck settled he has control but even then opponents seem to whack at his shaft and dislodge the puck….

    USE A REAL EFFING HOCKEY STICK HEMSKY!

      • Badger

        He has a point. Hemsky saws his blade off, so its tiny. It’s like he’s using a jr stick. Every time he has ever lost the puck in traffic, it always seems to look funny…..the puck just sorta rolls off the blade.

      • Romulus' Apotheosis

        let me guess, you’re one of the fans that roars with cheers when Hemsky comes down the boards and makes the unnecessary “stick handle the puck behind his legs and back through to the front of his legs” move that always knocks him off the puck but always grants cheers. Not to mention all the other unnecessary stick handling moves, like the infamous put your team mates off side move before entering the zone.

        The guy makes some pretty stick handling “moves” that one would do when playing pond hockey, but when it comes to playing against NHL calibre defensemen they often do NOT work. Hemsky’s biggest problem is that extra move. A more simplified game would go a long ways. Pull those moves in desperation, don’t intentionally pull them for eye candy purposes only.

  • Lowetide

    Hemsky’s biggest problem is Eberle and Yakupov. They’re young and part of the Hall cluster. I’m not saying Hemsky can’t stay, I’d love to see him here, but his role is and will continue to change.

    Less PP, less gifted linemates, more heavy lifting (although he’s always done that job, or at least from early on).

    • kawi460

      i agree, he doesn’t seem to have a fit. The oilers need to get meaner and bigger in the top 9. He might be moved to free up a spot for a more physical player.

    • McDavid's Comet

      I have always loved Hemmer. For years he was one of the only bright lights on a pretty dreary team.

      I’ve gotten the impression though that he has really hated seeing these shiny rookies coming along and pushing him down the depth chart.

      I hate to say it but i think that may have been why he seemed to never want to pass to Yak. Maybe deep down not wanting to contribute to Yak’s success.

      You wouldn’t expect a professional to do that, but he definately wasn’t passing to Yak for some reason. He always seemed iritated in interviews when asked about the new rookies. (Hall,Nuge,Yak mainly). He just has never really seemed to work well with the skill kids either.

      He’s done ok with Hall at times, but hell they could throw me on a line with Hall and I could post a + Corsi.

      Any of you guys see this too, or do you think i’m just out to lunch as usual?

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    You don’t even need to go that far back. Just watch this play from last week:

    http://video.oilers.nhl.com/videocenter/console?hlg=20122013,2,550&event=VAN501&lang=en

    We’re down 2-0 in the third everyone is pinching except 15. 89 makes a terrible pass into the slot resulting in a turnover. the nucks have an odd man rush going the other way.

    while 89 and 19 lollygag their way back, who’s that busting his ass, literally launching himself into the boards at full steam — WHILE ALREADY PLAYING INJURED!! — trying to keep the game close?

    that’s effing right 83.

    put the “good canadian kid” googles away and show some respect.

  • McDavid's Comet

    LT, I listen to a lot of OilKings games and I really like St.Croix. Do you think that hemsky would be an overpayment for St.Croix and their first Rnd 2013 or not enough?

    • Lowetide

      I don’t think it’s the right time to trade Hemsky for that kind of package. If the Rangers are after Hemsky, imo Edmonton needs to get someone who could help immediately.

      Someone from the roster. And I do think Hemsky may end up in NYC.

  • Rob...

    So here’s my biggest problem: I want to hate Tambi. The Oilers have sucked for so long, that he HAS TO take the blame. With that said, he inherited a team with very little trade clout. Regardless if you’re talking bit players or high end talent, the players were either useless, injured, or vocally demanded trades that dropped their value drastically. What sort of miracles are expected of this guy, or any GM that replaced him at any time during this rebuild?

  • Muji

    Mark Spector is a knob.
    Hemsky doesn’t talk to him so he basically slanders Hemsky. He calls him a jerk, says he’s overpaid, says he’s bad hockey player, says he should be traded.

    Can you imagine?

    Say you work in an office. Your annoying coworker constantly bugs you with dumb questions. You’re a quiet guy and English isn’t even your first language so instead of risking saying something you would regret, you stay silent and simply ignore the guy.

    The guy has issues. So he takes it personally. He starts rumours about you. He talks to your boss and tries to get him to fire you. He basically tries to ruin your life. Because you didn’t talk to him.

    And he still asks you dumb questions. Do you want to talk to him now?

    Who’s wrong in the scenario above?

    • Romulus' Apotheosis

      Perfect analogy. Agree 100%.

      Also similar to the Matheson treatment of Yakupov at the world juniors before the season.

      Ironic that the biggest prima donnas in these scenarios are the reporters, not the NHL players.

      • Romulus' Apotheosis

        Pre-Internet sports writers and personalitys had tangible power they could weild and they could truly affect an NHLers career if they were motivated, today as soon as they open their flaps and try ganging up on someone the internet balances the playing field.

        Please remember to engage and battle these influences whenever you see them stepping out of line and abusing their powers. There are a few who are learning to effectively use both traditional media and the Internet together to defend their powerbase or ability to weild tangible influence.

        Comment and support media people when they behave with a modicum of class, and when they are just simply straight up and honest and use integrity in their job execution.

        The stark reality is that many many internet posters are much better hockey analysts and writers than the actual guys who have the jobs with traditional media outlets where they earn their paycheques, and sometimes these naturally talented posters punt media personalitys in their Crown Royale Bag with legitimate cause. Then commonly the media hack will put the call out to his cronys and retaliate as hard as he can using gang tactics.

        When asports personality is unprofessional guys can ignore them now and not fear being blackballed as they had to in the past, in fact now they can simply count on the fans like us having fair and intelligent judgement abilitys that will support them and protect them from a media blackballing.

        Unscroupulous media people who bend the rules and try to abuse their media powers and influences need to be dealt with through the Peoples Court on-line on the internet. If they can take the heat and play by the new rules which require integrity and honesty and dont allow old-school manipulation then they will thrive and do well,if they are weasels and try to flex their now useless media muscles then we can spank them back into their places as fans quite quickly.

        Yakupov had some excellent advice and direction and he has mastered the interview and matured quickly, he is a fast study and he has a lonnng memory, I hope all the Oilers take an aggressive stance with the Media here in Edmonton because for many many years the Team and Players had to kiss media arse to support a flagging franchise. Now the Oilers can re-assert themselves and not pander to the ,media at all, they can present a united front as all top echelon NHL teams do as standard operating procedure, they never present themselves as fractured, and dont allow the media to have any dynamic effect on their teams day to day functions.

        Go ahead and bait an Oiler in the media and see what the fans do when we see what you have done, try to deny the reality the back-lash will have on you via both the players teammates and the fans pinning you down and holding you accountable for your actions. The Oilers are beginning to gel as a team and you can see it in their interviews, the stitches are being put in closer and closer together now and the fabric is getting stronger by the week. Its not a good time to be overly-critical of the Oilers, they and their fans are becoming defensive and territorial, there will be a response now and it will only get stronger as the team and fans continue to join each other on the same page.

        I see most media people acting professionally and most Oilers embracing them, the team and the media have a very supportive relationship in Edmonton by and large, we have our bad apples as everyone does but it is what it is.

  • McDavid's Comet

    Because he does the right things many media types blow him off . I say keep him untill the next trade deadline if we are in or out of the playoffs . If Tambo is still around don’t bank on making it next year .As I said on your other site LOOSE tonight and Katz will here the boos in Vancouver.

    • All Oilers fans do is boo. What right did Oilers fans have in the season opener to boo Horcoff when he was introduced before the game started. Oilers had won the season opener in Vancouver. Fans are the reason Oilers have a difficult time singing UFAs.

  • Lowetide

    I for one do not really care if Hemsky is media shy………my issue with him is team play. He has never really demonstrated any chemistry with any player except maybe Horcoff. We all know that Shawna has no real hockey skills and cannot carry a play……..Hemsky is a great fit with Horcoff because he know he can carry the puck without having to pass it. Hemsky has always been a one-man show and every ten games or so his style of play works and he puts up points. Far too streaky and if consistency is a metric………Hemksy fails on all fronts.

    We had a chance to trade him but Tamby was too afraid to pull off a deal. He claims that he did not want to jeopardize the five game winning streak……..so it looks really good that the Oil have laid big fat eggs for Tamby since!

    I for one hope Tamby chokes on his extra large omlettes.

    • Oilers get bashed for every move they make. This has been happening since 2000. Oilers got bashed for trading draft picks for Brown and Smithson. Oilers get bashed for every move. No wonder Oilers have a hard time singing UFAs. Fans will bash the player before they get here.

      • Romulus' Apotheosis

        Jasmine,

        I’m not sure what you consider bashing? I’m not eve sure I understand the concept, but six years of losing, and losing badly, will create a level of criticism that is necessary, and I would argue needed.

        You keep wanting to “bash the fans”, but it’s the fans and only the fans that have the right to question the current state of affairs. In the real world if you perform the way the Oilers have, finishing last, someone usually gets fired. In every arena, ( private business, sports, politics etc) if you continue to suck and make excuses for under performing, usually someone if not all management get fired.

        The Oilers under Klowe and Tamby, have fired four coaches, trainers, front office personnel as if to assert that the ongoing situation is someone’s fault. Now I believe as most hockey fans do that the real problem is management, not necessarily for what they have done, but for what they have failed so miserably to do. ………bring in the pieces to support the youthful talent.

        Management needs to get bashed because they are so ineffectual, and incompetent.

        As far as UFA’s go ( apparently everyone except you) we all know why UFA’s do not sign here……..it’s because of the reputation Oilers management, AND NOT THE FANS!!!!!!!!!

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    Hemsky was our best player til the 09/10 season. Unfortunitely he has been hurt for too long. This club is ready to make the next step and to do that they have to either trade or sign assets. Hemsky is on pace for a 50 pt season and under 20 goals in a projected 80 game season. Plus injury issues. The question is what trade value does he have? Especially at 5 million dollars. a lot of analysts say there’s s lot of teams not willing to take that contract especially with his injury history and a salary cap going down to 64millions. if we wait til the trade deadline we ll only get a second rounder and maybe a B prospect or do resign him. I think Tambo has gotten himself into a tough situation where were not at strength. Crickets crickets

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    Never questioned Hemsky’s heart, only questioned his hockey iq and his inability to constantly be aware of the on ice situation. Doesn’t consistently keep his head on a swivel to account for the ever changing conditions and positions of players on the ice. If he did that he’d probably go from a very good offensive player to a great one, like Datsyuk. Not saying he’d be the same player overall, but offensively they both own incredibly disgusting puck/stick skills.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    I have to hand it to you LT. You are def a glass-half-full kind of guy when it comes to Oiler players, prospects, farm hands, etc.

    As breathtaking as Hemsky’s skills can be, he is not a 5 million dollar player and he is injury prone.

    His contract is widely considered a joke outside the Oilogosphere. His previous contract at 4 million dollars per season was a six year deal that gave him security and represented a risky investment in the future on the part of the Oilers. It was pretty big money at the time for a relatively unproven young player.

    I certainly don’t think he has taken any hometown discounts to stay here.

    • That contract was also called an overpayment. The Hall and Eberle contracts are also called an overpayment by people outside of Edmonton. Get what I’m getting at. Everyone outside of Edmonton are calling all the Oilers players overpaid and not worth a damn in a trade.

  • Muji

    Why does the blog say “83 has been playing through pain for much of the season.” when it was approximately a month ago he blocked the shot, which has been revealed to be the cause for his discomfort. That isn’t much of the season. I know most people love making excuses for this player, but I for one am tired of hearing about it.

    • Oilers fans like running players out of town. Many good players have been run out by Oilers fans as well as Terry Jones.

      Poti was run out by Terry Jones. Then there was Greene, Stoll and others. This is the reason Oilers have a hard time signing UFAs.

      • GVBlackhawk

        Please specify which players have been ‘run out of town’ by fans.

        From my perspective, management have been responsible for ALL player transactions. They did an especially poor job dealing with the likes of Sheldon Souray, Linus Omark, Kyle Brodziak, etc. These are textbook examples of poor player/asset management.

        The fans are not responsible for this.

  • GVBlackhawk

    If Ales has played injured and put in an effort good on him. He has not seemed alright. The first 10-15 games he looked like old Hemsky, the last 15 not so much.

    Is Ales perfect? No, hes not the dominant player he once was, nor may he may never be again..However he’s a player whos wanted to be here though many thrown him under a bus, or shipped him outta town. He’s not been the problem this year. He at least still a player other teams must check. Most of the other veterans, don’t require any extra attention.

    I think Ales should go to veteren team so we can.all see what we miss.

  • TKB2677

    So apparently Hemsky’s been dealing with a injured foot whether its bruised, broken or cracked. It hasn’t been a problem for the entire season just for a little over a month.

    I’m not a doctor but I didn’t know the bones in your foot were connected to your hands. WOW, I guess Hemsky must be a genetic freak because when I hurt my foot, the pain is in my hands and they work perfectly fine. I can understand a foot injury hampering his skating a bit (though I can’t say i’ve noticed anything). I was at the game vs the Coyotes and Hemsky was terrible but it sure wasn’t his skating that stood out as being the reason why.

    He’s got his shoulders fixed after more than 2 years, now it’s a foot injury. SO what’s the next excuse for Hemsky not doing anything going to be once the foot is better? Cuts himself shaving? He nicks his neck with razor, his life flashes before his eyes as a droplet of blood appears so he becomes afraid of all blade related things including skates.

  • Word to the Bird

    Hemsky played well in Europe this year and the first dozen games of this year, then he went back to being Hemsky [ this was long before so called injury ].

    He has not been a fit on the current roster for the past 3 years. Cant seem to play with success or be on side for that matter , no matter who he plays with.

    The bottom line is paid $5 million dollars to score much need goals by this team and he’s not
    up to doing that. Keep in mind he is a veteran of this team, as well.

    Thanks for the dangle, now how about some goals.

    You can have wordly skills, but if your head is not into it… it ain’t happening. You have to be a team player on and off the ice.

    • Romulus' Apotheosis

      “wordly skills”

      I’m guessing this is a typo of “worldly” but I’m not sure that makes much more sense. In that case, you’d seem to be suggesting Hemsky’s got the profane down but needs to work on his sacred skills.

      At any rate, both (“wordly” or “worldly”) amuse me a great deal. We could all use a great deal of either!

        • Romulus' Apotheosis

          no worries….

          FYI not trying to pick on grammar and spelling… I only point out something like this when I find it amusing, like the other day when someone said someone else ought to “go fourth” instead of “forth”

          those kinds of typos crack me up and deserve sharing.

    • TKB2677

      Bang on man.
      The vets on this team have been an epic fail and Hemsky the first candidate. He hasn’t been good since th 08-09 season. I know he had shoulder problems but it took him more than 3 years to get over it so you can’t tell me its been all shoulder.

      The Oilers management have invested a hell of a lot of time, been extremely patient, loyal and understanding with Hemsky. They have given him way more rope than I think they should have and he has done little or nothing other than collect a fat pay check to give them any sort of return on their investment. Based on hhis production, he’s basically been a thief.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    Hemsky is a zone entry specialist and needs to be utilised as such 100% of the time not be asked to be a footsoldier. He has been injured a lot but he performs at an elite level and that is the price he is willing to pay to be an elite NHLer. As a team we need to pay the price to retain his zone entry ability by adjusting the system.

    I feel he has gotten a fair rap over the years, he had a rough ride evolving mostly because of the way the Organisation laid the relationships dynamic groundrules down from day one, Ales had a different core degree of value back then and was treated with kid gloves because we had to do that. He is a product of his environment and he became sensitive but still tough and we have to take 100% of that accountability seeing as he has been here basiclly his entire career and we forged him with our template.

    I appreciate that he said that he voluntarily played injured, that he wanted to contribute, I appreciate it when players try to work injured, it doesnt sound like he was pigeonholed into coming back to soon like Souray was, it sounds like he knew the price and was willing to pay it.

    I dont subscribe to injured players being on the roster at all, a 75% Hemmer is not better than a 100% average players, unless we are literally in a playoff series and you dont practice that type of scarifice during the regular season.

    The reason Hemmer was injured was because he was doing his job blocking a shot, a job we need done, my point is supported 100% because until Hemsky can repeat that identical play and put himself in the exact position with no fear and hesitation he shouldnt be in the lineup because he cannot do his job as well as a replacement asked to stand in front of another shot in the foot. Its not about the players willingness , it is about their ability, and the system requires as much ability as willingness.

    As with all NHLers Hemsky has aged and evolved, and his role has changed on this team, on another he is top dog still, but here he needs to simply be himself on the 3rd line with spot duty up and down. he needs to take pride in scoring from the 3rd lone and learn to understand that those goals are more valuable now because they support the Kids he is teaching, after all he is a veteran although we dont hear that mentioned much in terms of teaching the Kids.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    Some people are born to lead and others are born to follow. Hemsky is very skilled and is more courageous than he ever gets credit for. He’s never looked comfortable talking to the media and that’s just fine. I think he has enjoyed the fact that the spotlight is no longer on him and he can just play hockey. Unfortunately, injuries haven’t allowed him to do much of that the past few seasons either.

    I think it’s time for Hemmer to be moved. For his sake and for the team’s sake. He is a proven top six forward. We have plenty of skill with Eberle and Yakupov needing top six minutes on the right side next season. A team like the Bruins or Blues who have the grit but are looking for a little bit more speed and skill come to mind.