21
Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Top 100 Oilers: Ales Hemsky (22)

More than once during the 11 seasons Ales Hemsky spent with the Edmonton Oilers, I wondered what kind of numbers he’d have put up with the high-flying Oilers of the 1980s, when goaltenders were sieves by today’s standards and Wayne Gretzky and Company were scoring 400 goals a season for fun.

No matter what the era, Hemsky had great wheels, a sweet set of hands and he scored goals that made highlight reels on a regular basis. For my money, I can’t think of three more talented Oilers in the post-Stanley Cup era than the baby-faced right-winger from Pardubice. Hemsky was also one of the most fearless players I have ever seen, a rare combination of magnificent talent and steely resolve when the going got tough. He never, ever backed off.

Ales Hemsky

Right Wing — shoots R
Born Aug 13 1983 — Pardubice, Czech Rep.
Height 6.00 — Weight 185 [183 cm/84 kg]

Drafted by Edmonton Oilers

Round 1 #13 overall 2001 NHL Entry Draft

BY THE NUMBERS

Season

Age

Tm

GP

G

A

PTS

+/-

PIM

S

S%

TOI

ATOI

2002-03

19

EDM

59

6

24

30

5

14

50

12.0

712

12:04

2003-04

20

EDM

71

12

22

34

-7

14

87

13.8

1025

14:26

2005-06

22

EDM

81

19

58

77

-5

64

178

10.7

1375

16:59

2006-07

23

EDM

64

13

40

53

-7

40

122

10.7

1087

16:59

2007-08

24

EDM

74

20

51

71

-9

34

184

10.9

1375

18:35

2008-09

25

EDM

72

23

43

66

1

32

185

12.4

1343

18:39

2009-10

26

EDM

22

7

15

22

7

8

57

12.3

395

17:56

2010-11

27

EDM

47

14

28

42

3

18

100

14.0

859

18:17

2011-12

28

EDM

69

10

26

36

-13

43

137

7.3

1214

17:36

2012-13

29

EDM

38

9

11

20

-6

16

82

11.0

597

15:42

2013-14

30

TOT

75

13

30

43

-15

24

138

9.4

1197

15:58

2013-14

30

EDM

55

9

17

26

-13

20

94

9.6

884

16:05

2013-14

30

OTT

20

4

13

17

-2

4

44

9.1

313

15:38

2014-15

31

DAL

76

11

21

32

-8

16

140

7.9

1037

13:38

2015-16

32

DAL

75

13

26

39

3

20

155

8.4

983

13:06

2016-17

33

DAL

15

4

3

7

-1

0

30

13.3

216

14:25

11 yrs EDM

652

142

335

477

-44

303

1276

11.1

10867

16:40

3 yrs DAL

166

28

50

78

-6

36

325

8.6

2236

13:28

1 yr OTT

20

4

13

17

-2

4

44

9.1

313

15:38

Career

838

174

398

572

-52

343

1645

10.6

13415

16:00

PLAYOFFS

Season

Age

Tm

GP

G

A

PTS

+/-

PIM

S

S%

TOI

ATOI

2002-03

19

EDM

6

0

0

0

-5

0

7

0.0

77

12:46

2005-06

22

EDM

24

6

11

17

-3

14

47

12.8

386

16:06

2015-16

32

DAL

13

1

3

4

-1

2

41

2.4

200

15:24

Career

43

7

14

21

-9

16

95

7.4

663

15:25

NOTABLE

Within about 20 minutes of the Oilers selecting Hemsky 13th overall from the Hull Olympiques at the 2001 Entry Draft in Florida, media relations man Bill Tuele hustled him over to Jim Matheson and me for an interview. Here was this rosy-cheeked kid without a single hair on his face. He made Ryan Nugent-Hopkins look like Grizzly Adams.

Hemsky blushed as he struggled to put words together. He looked about 15. Hemsky had put up 197 points in just 121 games over two seasons with Hull. I remember looking at him and thinking, “How?” It didn’t take long to get an answer. The ability to get to full speed in three strides, a just-try-to-stop-me nose for the net, inside-outside moves that put opponents in knots and a sneaky wrist shot, that’s how. Oh, and he didn’t blink when games got physical and opposing D-men targeted him, which was often.

Calgary Flames’ defenseman Robyn Regehr, most notably, made it his mission in hockey life to run at and cheap-shot Hemsky every chance he got. So much so, there’s a YouTube clip out there of the mugging highlights. It’s here. Regehr, who had about 40 pounds on Hemsky, had him blowing snot bubbles so many times I lost count. I can, however, count the times the abuse convinced Hemsky to bail when he could hear Regehr coming – none, zero, zip.

THE STORY

NEWARK, NJ – FEBRUARY 07: Ales Hemsky #83 of the Edmonton Oilers in action against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on February 7, 2014 in Newark, New Jersey. The Devils defeated the Oilers 2-1 in overtime.

Hemsky’s most prolific season in Edmonton was 2005-06, when he had 77 points. He had 71 in 2007-08. Hemsky’s biggest problem was staying healthy enough to play a whole season, or close to it. No surprise, given his high-speed forays into the greasy areas. During his tenure in Edmonton, Hemsky played 75 or more games just once in those 11 seasons. He paid the price without question.

Hemsky scored 142 regular season goals for the Oilers and added six more in the run to the 2006 Stanley Cup final. Two moments stand out for me. First, there the goal he scored to beat the Detroit Red Wings in the sixth game of the first round in 2006. It’s here. Then, there’s the ridiculous play Hemsky finished off against the Dallas Stars. It’s here. If you were there, you’ll never forget it.

Some old hockey dogs like me used to nag about Hemsky’s aversion to breaking a single bead of sweat when it came time to practice. Last on the ice, first off. That was Hemsky. When the national anthems were over and the puck hit the freeze, though, Hemsky was all-in. Brilliant when rushing the puck, determined to get where he had to go, no matter what. What a talent he was here.

This series will look at the top 100 Edmonton Oilers from the NHL era 1979-80 to 2014-15, starting with 100 and working up.

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

PREVIOUSLY:

  • ed from edmonton

    Hemsky was always a bit of a disappointment to me. His skill and talent were world class, but you never knew what he would bring from on night to the next. I was also not so impressed about his willingness to allow Robyn Reagher to paste him into the middle next week and firing up the Shames and their fans. I would have been more impressed if he had stepped around Reagher a few times,

  • Hemmercules

    Been looking forward to this one. One of my favourite Oilers of all time. The Pardubice Prince. If his shoulders and wrists weren’t blowing up on him all the time he could have been even better (injured again this past season for almost the entire year). I guess thats a product of going to the tough areas. He usually didn’t have crazy goal celebrations, much like Drai, and I liked that about him for some reason. Too bad he never won a cup, lots of great players never do and he came so damn close.

  • It infuriated me watching some of the Edmonton media (Matheson, Spector) rag on Hemsky for his perceived faults (appeared to be disinterested, not a great interview, etc.) and completely ignored his talent and willingness to get beat up by goons like Regher on a nightly basis. Maybe if Hemsky had offered to wash Matheson’s car or had a nice Boston accent like Ryan Whitney he’d have been more appreciated?

    • I got on Hemsky from time to time, but not because of his birth certificate. When you got Ales one-on-one he could by very engaging and honest. And he was disinterested — in practice. Ales was far from alone in that, though. Lots of good, old Canadian boys the very same. Terrific player.

      • Sure, and that’s fair. I distinctly remember a Spector article – at the height of ELPH when Lowe, Tambi, MacT, Howson, etc. were sewering the team – that called out Hemsky as ENTIRELY the root of the problem with the Oilers. It was so laughably ridiculous that I’m surprised Spector continued to have a career afterwards.

        • Oilman

          Here’s the quote from that Spector article:

          “But who on the team takes responsibility for Ales Hemsky, the epitome of poor leadership and professional indifference, who stands as an awful example for an impressionable core.

          When you talk about changing a losing culture, you talk about moving out Hemsky – a player seemingly satisfied with an April exit, season after season.

          Hemsky doesn’t work on his game post-practice; he doesn’t produce during games; he is eternally injured; he is overpaid for his production. If he had signed a five-year deal instead of a two-year contract, and cared a bit more, he’d be Mikhail Grabovski.

          When it’s all over, and the 19th game has passed in which Hemsky has delivered but a single goal for his $5-million salary, he didn’t even have the stones to stand in front of a media microphone Wednesday. Again he refused to talk post-game, leaving his coach Ralph Krueger to trot out the litany of excuses that this organization has collectively proffered for No. 83 for years now.

          “It’s been a month on a foot injury…,” said Ralph Krueger. “He’s not at 100 per cent … You know he’s limited with the injury he has… That’s been a factor in his lack of production….”

          Excuses, excuses, excuses.”

  • Aitch

    Glad to see you focus on just how tough Hemmer was. Way too often he’s portrayed as a soft-skill player by many, including many who seemingly watched him night after night. I still remember a wicked body check he laid against the Blues in one of his first games. I never questioned his toughness after that. It just seemed a bonus given his wheels and his hands. It’s too bad his peak years were the beginning of the Decade of Darkness. It would’ve been great to see what he could’ve done playing alongside a better team during those years, seeing how well he did on the one complete team the Oilers cobbled together during his time as an Oiler.

  • The older I get, the better I was...

    Always liked watching the skill. Also very frustrated that no one else on the team seemed to step up and deal with Robyn Regehr after all the cheap, dirty shots. All Hemsky could do was take it and keep going back from more knowing no one on the team really had his back.

  • BlueHairedApe

    I see I’m not the only one frustrated by Hemsky on most nights. Credit him for going to the tough areas but elite forwards usually come out unscathed with the puck on their stick. This didn’t seem like the case most nights with Hemsky. I got the same feeling when Hall would go into the corner, get mashed and the opposing team started up the ice again.

  • MacT's Neglected Helmet

    Hemsky was my favourite player.
    Before him, it was Dougie Weight.
    After him, it was Taylor Hall.
    And of course Connor McDavid now.

    Dougie was here for some good times. Connor’s obviously enjoying success as we speak. Hall’s tenure was miserable but usually had some HOPE. Hemsky’s start was obviously thrilling, but most of his time here was miserable WITHOUT HOPE. Most nights, he was the only reason to watch the Oilers. And he was streaky (like most scoring wingers are) so most nights were pretty blah.

  • BobbyCanuck

    He was my fave during his time here, on many nights the only bright spot during our years of ineptitude. I miss him more than I have missed any former Oiler. l will never be able to forgive Oilers management for destroyed what could have been a glorious career