• Eleven Years of Pestilence

    by  • February 7, 2012 • Hockey • 16 Comments

    It seems pretty likely that we are seeing the last days of Ales Hemsky in an Oilers jersey. The whole thing is playing out as it always does, with increasingly emboldened media members smelling blood and getting their shots in on Hemsky. Just like they did with Sheldon Souray. Just like they did with Ryan Smyth. Just like they did with Anson Carter. We aren’t even back into the 20th century yet, but you get the idea. Long time Oilers leaving town has certain rituals that must be observed. It’s Northern Alberta’s version of seppuku, only with generally honourable people being disembowelled.

    I thought it might be fun, in the weeks leading up to the deadline, to highlight some of the completely fair and sensible criticism that Ales Hemsky receives, so that we can all revel in how lucky we are that we will soon be rid of a 28 year old established top three forward coming off a couple years of injury problems.

    Commenter DSF at Lowetide’s site:

    In other news…Ales Hemsky was -4 on the night.

    Time for a new long term deal. :)

    Hemsky, at some point, has to be held accountable for his play.

    He’s played with Smyth for eons and I doubt Hoppy is a tough guy to play with.

    Smyth, honestly, looks done but a “go to guy” like Hemsky has to be much, much better.

    Then he should be history.

    He’s part of the problem.

    -4 eh!?!? Let’s look at all those goals he cost the Oilers last night

    There’s Hemsky in the bottom right hand corner, looking back on the play as Corey Potter prepares to pick up the puck and lead a smooth Oilers’ breakout.

    Huh. Potter seems to have knocked it a little far there but I’m sure everything will be fine.


    Here’s Leafs centre Matt Lombardi with the puck, skating out of the corner. Hemsky is up high, just north of the dot. The Nuge is in pursuit of Lombardi.

    Lombardi tosses the puck behind the net and the Nuge doubles back, looking for Phil Kessel. Lombardi has, presumably, just backed out into the neutral zone where he will wait for the Oilers to break out.

    Three Oilers down low against two Leafs. Defending’s pretty easy when the other centreman just stands in the neutral zone – easy to get the man advantage down low.

    *Sputtering sounds of outrage* WHAT? LOMBARDI? And look at Hemsky just standing there, taking away the point shot. Bonus points for the way that the Nuge and Jeff Petry split their responsibilities here too – Petry runs out at Lombardi, leaving the Nuge boxed out by Dubnyk and the net as Kessel slides behind and…


    Here’s Taylor Hall, who deserves some credit for back checking hard at the end of his shift after a puck was turned over at the blue line. Potter played the 2 on 1 miserably, letting the pass through for a shot and Hall came back to scoop up the rebound. Chip it behind the net or over to the wing where Hemsky’s just lazily standing there, waiting for a pass and it’s cool.

    Oh dear.


    All of Hemsky’s goal causing mistakes from earlier had consequences and the Oilers had to pull their goalie. Hemsky was sent out with Eric Belanger, Ryan Jones and Ryan Smyth to try and rescue something. Unfortunately, the puck gets turned over (not by Hemsky) and there goes Phil Kessel. (sad trombone)

    But wait! It’s Ryan Whitney! He’ll either bury Kessel or force him to cut so far back that Hemsky has a shot at him…oh right. Ryan Whitney is basically the closest thing hockey has to the Queen Elizabeth II, in that it takes him about a mile of ice to turn.


    Another goal that’s Hemsky’s fault. A -4, completely on him. I bet he’ll be the first guy on his flight out of town when the time comes, just like he’s the first guy off the ice after practice. Good thing – will free up some money to keep Cam Barker who, having only gone -3 against the Maple Leafs, is clearly much better than Hemsky.


    16 Responses to Eleven Years of Pestilence

    1. Silver
      February 7, 2012 at

      None of this matters. The big question is, why is Hemsky still here, unsigned for next year?

      I mean, this is basic GM 101, isn’t it? The decision should have been made last year at this time.

      I bet Tambo shits himself on a regular basis trying to decide if he needs to go to the bathroom yet or not…

    2. Sloppy Joe
      February 7, 2012 at


      I realize I’m probably preaching to the converted, but I was absolutely shocked when Hemsky indicated last week that there has been zero contract talk with the oilers. Not even a feeler from Tambo re what Hemsky is looking for re term or amount, and not even a lowball offer from Tambo. They’re going to trade him for peanuts, and the MSM (along with many Oilers fans/sheep) will either applaud the move or be apologists (… “Tambo got back the most he could given the circumstances …”). It’s just infuriating.

      And I feel bad for Hemsky – having slogged through so many tough seasons, only to be shipped off so unceremoniously.

      • godot10
        February 7, 2012 at

        There is no rule saying that the player and his agent can’t make an offer to the team, if they want to stay.

        Hemsky is coming off of two surgeries. A GM is going to want to see as much hockey as possible this year before making an offer. Hemsky has not exactly been producing at his normal rates of production this year. So it makes it very different for a GM to decide what to offer, or to make an offer that doesn’t insult the player, so you wait as long as possible for the player to produce at historical rates of production.

        I’m was for trading Hemsky since last year. I preferred to keep Penner and Gagner over him, and I still think it is a choice between Hemsky and Gagner in the medium term, and I choose Gagner. However, I am not opposed to a one year deal with a 10-17% raise to his current year actually salary of $5 million r (to $5.5-6 million dollars) to give more time for Hemsky to regain his form, so the Oilers can get something of value for him.

        Hemsky is going to cost too much as a 2nd line RW long term…probably around $6 million per year, which is too much when considering what Eberle, Hall, and Nugent-Hopkins will be getting in their 2nd contracts (where the Oilers should try to lock up 3 UFA years for each player).

      • high hopes
        February 9, 2012 at

        dont feel too sorry, one day in the spring he will wake up somewhere else, far away from novasibersk, and the birds will be singing….

    3. matt
      February 7, 2012 at

      I don’t feel bad for Hemsky. He makes millions to play hockey. I feel bad for me. I cheer for a team run by idiots applauded by lobotomized idiots who somehow have sports journalism jobs.

    4. Travis Dakin
      February 7, 2012 at

      FFS Tyler! since the Oilers seem to like doing pretty much the opposite of what you say, would it kill you to maybe throw it out there that Hemsky SHOULD be traded? Perhaps all of this “logic” you’ve insisted on using all these years, is not the way to reason with Tambellini. Try dumbing it down and use a little reverse psychology. Make the puppet dance.

    5. David Staples
      February 7, 2012 at

      I always knew that sooner or later a smart guy like you would see the light and start looking to see who made actually was a culprit, and who was not, on goals and scoring chances against, rather than just rely on all the unfair and inaccurate goal and scoring chance plus/minus metrics out there.

      Last night, not only was Hemsky not to blame on any goal against, he wasn’t to blame on any scoring chance against either.

      • Woodguy
        February 7, 2012 at

        Last night, not only was Hemsky not to blame on any goal against, he wasn’t to blame on any scoring chance against either.

        Did you mention that on Stauffer’s show today? I missed your segment, but Bob was playing “Hemsky Bad, Barker Good” for the whole show.

        • Tyler
          February 7, 2012 at

          I listened to David’s segment. Didn’t come up and Bob even mentioned the -4.

    6. Dennis
      February 7, 2012 at

      He was just like you, Staples: he needed someone to rip off.

    7. David Staples
      February 7, 2012 at

      @Woodguy. I hadn’t yet tabulated the results when I went on Stauffer’s show. And I also break down so many goals and scoring chances, that they all blur together.

      So when Stauffer mentioned that Hemsky was -4, I was trying to recall if Hemsky had actually made a mistake on any goals against, but it didn’t come to mind. If it had, I would have told Bob that the -4 didn’t apply to Hemsky, that he wasn’t to blame on any of those goals against, that it’s bogus number, as team-based plus or minus numbers so often are when they’re attributed to one individual.

      In that game, Hemsky helped to create just two scoring chances and made mistakes on none against.

      For an NHLer winger to be doing his job, you like to see him create three or four chances in a game, around five chances for a top-line winger, so it wasn’t a great night for him on the attack.

      P.S. Yes, Dennis, you invented the scoring chance.

      And fire.

      And the helicopter.

    8. David Staples
      February 7, 2012 at


      I think a one-year deal offer for Hemsky is a good idea, even at an overpay, say $5.5 million.

      If it were up to you, what deal and term would you offer Hemsky?

      Given the checkered history of players returned from injury, I think it’s a good idea to make an offer to Hemsky on a short-term deal, but if he insists on a four or five year deal — that’s what Stauffer said Hemsky is insisting upon — I would refuse. Too risky.

      How do you see it?

    9. Romulus' Apotheosis
      February 8, 2012 at

      Well you have to blame someone, right? And since the Oilers Goat Lazy Susan has been stuck on Ales for the last month or so (that can of Barker Beans that’s fallen in behind is really gumming up the works), it’s a bit precious to expect anyone to consider blaming anyone but him. And minus 4 sure sounds conclusive. Besides didn’t you hear: “Gagner got 8 points against Chicago and Hemsky got none!… Evidence!”

    10. Coach Pb
      February 8, 2012 at

      How did you not mention Barker on that second goal? What in the hell was he doing?!

    11. DSF
      February 8, 2012 at

      Tyler, The spirited defense of Hemsky being launched by you and other commentators is a bit of a shell game.

      Whether or not Hemsky was responsible for those goals is all but irrelevant….Hemsky is paid to produce offense and he isn’t getting the job done.

      Toronto is in the bottom third in the league in GA/G, their goaltending is, at best, average and, in a game where they are willing to run and gun with the Oilers, Hemsky should thrive.

      But instead, he and his linemates get lit up by the Leafs.

      As Staples mentions above, the paucity of scoring chances against Toronto speaks volumes.

      Hemsky has managed only 4 goals and 22 points in 40 games and, while you have to cut him a bit of a break coming back from injury, that is just putrid.

      To extend Hemsky, as many of you are suggesting, would likely require bumping his pay scale into the Ryan Kesler range ($5M cap hit).
      Kelser is another player coming off offseason surgery, missed training camp, started very slowly and is generally considered to be having an off year (no surprise). And yet, while facing the toughest competition, killing penalties and running with a rag tag bunch of wingers, has managed to put up 17 goals and 37 points.

      The bottom line is Hemsky is getting killed.
      GFON/60 – 1.66
      GAON/60 – 2.91

      I know we should blame all of this on Cam Barker but Barker has only played 15 games and Hemsky has been horrible for 40.

      I’d say extending Hemsky looks like a very, very bad bet.

    12. February 8, 2012 at

      Staples: I heard there’s another city that needs fierce support of a building funding by public money;)

      I don’t say I invented the scoring chance; but I was the first person to show the initiative and put the time in to record a team’s chances for the entire season. The first thing you tried as a usurping was the errors project; something I imagine these days you feel as much kinship and pride in as Garth Brooks does to the works of Chris Gaines.

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