Monday, February 20, 2012

Trading Ales

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.


Oiler Mag said...

Nice piece BD - written from the heart via the brain. Hall and Ted already have 3.75m hits so they should only need a 2-2.5m raise while Jordan with Hands might need an extra 5. So we need to find 10m to pay the kids. No problem even if we give Ales an extra million Ladi & '89 who thinks he's 99' an extra 1.5
Smyth might only last another season, maybe two, the way he looks at the moment @ 3m
We don't know what will haopen with the cap, but we should have coin for an upper tier Dman after all that. Plus we already have 8m+ in space and 4m in waste.
In short - sign the man, and Sammy as well! That last period of the Red Wings game is my favourite period of hockey.
Stoll gives it to Hemsky, Hemsky stick-handling over the blue line leaves it for Samsonov, back to Hemsky. Best team in the NHL is going home : -)

Marsha said...

It is sad that some of the fans are buying into the media bashing. Last night, some idiot called into 630 and said Hemsky was old and his best years were behind him. You can be leery of his injuries but signing him is not a big of a risk as the media are saying. If he's asking for reasonable money, do it. You'll miss his points and will have to replace him somehow.

Bar Qu said...

As an Oilers fan living in Calgary, I find it hard to get on my own kids for not wanting to cheer for my team. Their friends (grade 2 kids!) know the Oilers suck and I can't blame them for going for the home team if there is nothing to cheer for on their old man's team. And with nothing apparently better on the short-term horizon, well I guess I better get used to "go Flames go."

The fans in Edmonton have gotten what they deserved, buying into the stories spun by the team about various players over the last 2 decades. I look forward to hearing about how Hall is reckless, or Eberle is too small or Hopkins too uninvolved in charity work, or other such nonsense when it is their turn to be run out of town on a rail. This franchise will never be better if the expectations don't start going up from fans and management alike. Booing at the hometeam a little more at games like the last two might be a good start.

Woodguy said...

The only shining light about Ales leaving town is that the result might get Tambellini fired next year.

The kids will face the best competition next year. Secondary scoring looks to be as dry as this year.

I doubt the fix the goaltending and giant hole at LHD.

The result will probably be another lottery pick, and hopefully that will hasten the departure of the GM.

Unfortunately Lowe is a part of the furniture at Oilers' HQ and unless they make a good hire next time, it might be more of the same.

Anonymous said...

The ironic thing in all this, is the fans lamenting we won't have any 2nd line scoring next year if they move Hemsky. This year, with Hemsky contributing his 4 goals, we have the captains 11 , and Smyths 16 (and he hasn't scored in about 2 months). So please, tell me again, where is all this 2nd line scoring that we have WITH Hemsky going to be next year?

Black Dog said...

anon I think ideally the Oilers run with Paajarvi and either Gagner or Ted and then Hemsky as the 2nd line. Hemsky only has 4 goals but we all know he is and has always been a setup man plus he's still not all the way back from his injury.

What I am saying is I am pretty sure he will bounce back next season.

But yeah the secondary scoring is an issue especially with Smyth's production falling off and Paajarvi's struggles.

Woodguy - yeah I think Tambo may be on this ice as is, another terrible year next year would do him in. Lowe probably slides right back in there I think.

Jana said...

I find it interesting you lump Spec in with those who are Oiler tattooed. I don't always agree with him but at least he has his own opinion.
I've liked Hemmer over the years but really have to wonder about his performance this season. Is he hurt and therefore so disengaged? He's not his normal self and has been absolutely dismal this season. If he doesn't want to resign here you'd think he'd try to prove he's worth more than he's currently making. Sad.
Love your blog! Spring is coming; time for a new puppy!

Black Dog said...

Hi Jana

I think its pretty simple, he had major surgery and it takes time to get back from that. Whitney is also not the player he was last year.

Ales has been getting better since the new year, I think he will continue to do so.

Put it this way, as you said even if he did not want to return he has motivation to be better. He will be I am quite sure of it.

Thanks for the kind words! Would love a new puppy but have to convince Jenn ;)