Monday, February 20, 2012
Now Dennis King probably said this better than me but I'm going to take a crack at it anyhow.
I'm against trading Ales Hemsky with two provisions. If a doctor tells me that he is at a high risk of recurring shoulder injuries then I'm going to walk. And if he is asking for a contract that is absolutely absurd then I do the same.
Now I am no doctor so I cannot comment on the first point but I reject the argument from fans who say that he has to be traded because he has missed a lot of games over the last two years without any proof that the injury will recur. He is on pace to play almost 70 games this year after some complications from his surgery.
Spezza. Koivu. Gaborik. Havlat. There are four names of quality players who missed a lot of time or had recurring issues who have bounced back. To say that Hemsky is done based on his injuries the last two seasons is the best argument against signing him. Telling me that he is not going to be able to stay healthy when you are not an actual doctor familiar with his injury? Sorry but I am going to go to an expert and if the word is good then that argument does not hold water.
I don't have an issue with the folks who make that argument, its a legitimate concern. Hemsky is going to get paid a lot of money and even though Katz has shown an amazing willingness to pay NHL contracts to guys in the minors, the KHL or now playing for other clubs, the reality is the money has to be spent wisely even though no other team spends money quite as poorly as this club. Amusing to see management and fans suddenly get religion about the cap suddenly but its a real argument, at least. I don't think its an issue myself. If Hemsky gets 5.5 lets say its a raise of 1.4 over what he makes now. How much are the Oilers paying to Souray, Nilsson and Brule alone? Just under four million folks. Barker is making 2 and a quarter. Smyth is going to take a salary haircut of a couple million at least And after next year Khabibulin and Whitney come off for nearly another eight million.
So don't tell me that they need to have space to give the kids raises. Who's going to play with the kids, a bunch of minimum wagers? You need to have talent around them, real talent, and you have to pay it.
Still at least the salary cap argument is a legitimate one, somewhat.
Where I have an issue is the idea, fanned by the usual culprits in the media, that Hemsky is a bad apple.
I've had the arguments on Twitter and seen the comments. Bad body language. Enigmatic. Lazy. First off the ice at practice.
The last is of course the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. Like Hemsky sprints to the bench as soon as the last drill is over, shoving guys out of the way like the episode of Seinfeld where George thinks there is a fire and makes a beeline for the door, trampling kids and an old lady.
Consider the source when it comes to the guys slagging Hemsky in print and over the airwaves though. First of all many of them cash cheques with an Oiler logo on them so its in their best interest to make sure that their employers don't look like dummies. Luckily for them Hemsky is having a bad year, the first after six in a row where he averaged just under a point a game, this despite usually being the only guy the other club had to stop and playing with, for the most part, a bunch of slugs.
You knew the fix was in though as soon as you heard guys like Stauffer and Spector running Ales down, just as we know that Renney is a goner now that Dan Tencer, little lad still in short pants, has started to run him down. Nice knowing you Tom. Never mind the lack of sense from either guy (Stauffer believing that Petry's emergence means the club can now trade their best Dman, Tom Gilbert, Spector stating just weeks ago that Cam Barker is a top three defenceman in the league), its their job to sell the Oilers' plan and because the plan does not include Hemsky they have to do their part. (And what does it say about the organization that they undercut a good soldier like Hemsky like that by the way? Typical garbage from these clowns.)
And of course this is where my point from the last post comes to light because rather than an uproar over the fact that the best Oiler since Doug Weight, the best Oiler of the last decade, a 28 year old who averaged nearly a point per game playing for a bad team against the other team's best night after night, never complaining, getting absolutely pounded by Reghyr and others, the guy who scored the biggest goal for the franchise since Todd Marchant, well instead of this we get a collective shrug and worse still, comments about, you guessed it, his body language.
No cutting of slack for a guy who has played his heart out for the club, who was the only worth you'd get for the price of a ticket for years.
None at all.
You get a nice comment from Robert Tychowski in the Sun the other day, perhaps the most clearheaded succinct statement on the situation and you have Jason Gregor stumping on the obvious fact that trading a top 6 forward is gutting your depth on a team shallow at every position and is a guaranteed way to make your team worse now and for the next few years unless the dice you roll on the return, likely a low end first round pick, comes up sevens, a most unlikely proposition.
But from the rest and from the grinning glazed over visage of Tambellini you get either crickets or worse yet, howls to push him off the ledge, the idea being that this is best for everyone concerned.
Oiler fans are used to this act and they always give management and their media giants (Terry Jones, being one, opined in the WJC that any six Dmen from that tournament would be better than the current Oilers' D. Your Elmer Ferguson award winner, folks. A guy who knows absolutely nothing about hockey apparently) the benefit of the doubt. Add to this the idea amongst Oiler fans which is pushed by the organization and supported by geniuses like Pierre Maguire (who said at the WJC in 2010 that Paajarvi would be the best Oilers winger AT THAT TIME and that Taylor Hall would be their BEST PLAYER AT THAT TIME) that any random teenager is better than a veteran professional hockey player of quality and well, there's that deferring to authority again, even though the authority is by any evidence incompetent and foolish.
The reality is this move is good for nobody except for the one person that it concerns more than anyone else. Ales Hemsky, who will get to play for a quality organization and in the playoffs for the first time in years. I hope that he is a star in this league for another decade and I hope that every time he comes back to Edmonton he puts on a glorious show, just as he has done for us for nearly a decade.
I believe that is what he has earned and that he deserves better than what he has gotten from the organization and many fans and that is a sad thing to see.
Posted by Black Dog at 9:00 AM