Poor Ales...poor Hemmer...poor Ales Hemsky...
He's got the puck, he's got the moves, but he's got nobody to pass it too anymore. Is this the year Ales Hemsky finally "breaks out" into the player we all think he can be? Is this the year when the quiet kid from the Czech Republic finally decides enough is enough and puts the team on his shoulders? Either way it'll be interesting for Oilers fans to find out in 2007-08.
Last season everyone was declaring the first 3 Oilers lines were filled with 9 potential 20- goal-scorers...declaring that a 300-goal season was within reach. Then the wheels completely fell off and while Hemsky discovered some magic in the early going with linemate Petr Sykora it tapered off and Sykora walked into unrestricted free agency and out of Hemsky's life. Now he's all alone in Edmonton...with nobody to pass to...and the fans aren't shy about telling you what they think..."Shoot Hemmer shoot!!!"
Who's the franchise now fans ask with Ryan Smyth's departure? No matter what any Oilers fan thinks the truth is this season will be Hemsky's season to make it or break it. Can a quiet kid that was rushed to the NHL step it up a notch with an all-star perfomance worthy of a future franchise player? If not now when...because the future is now for the Oilers? Considering the well-entrenched status of draft year peers such as Jason Spezza and Rick Nash one wonders where Hemsky really belongs in the top 6 rotation of Oilers forwards...?
Hemsky is armed with a lethal shot, that's rarely used, making one wonder why is he saving his ammunition? Is there another NHL forward that appears more afraid to actually score goals than Hemsky-who doesn't like to score goals in the NHL? He has more natural talent than the rest of entire Oilers roster put together, but time and again Hemsky refuses to step up into the limelight and "be the man in Winterland". His future in Edmonton is assured with 5 years left on his current deal with the Oilers, but one has to wonder what will come first...will the Oilers tire of Hemsky...or will Hemsky tire of the Oilers...? With an obvious preference to passing over shooting when will Hemsky become tired of watching fellow Oilers unable to finish what he starts?
Hemsky isn't afraid to play in traffic, not afraid to throw the occasional big hit, but he's afraid of responsibilities. As long as he passes the puck off he passes away his opportunity to step up and lead, but thinks he can't be blamed when the Oilers don't win games under the guise of being an "unselfish" teammate. Not the mark of a future franchise player perhaps?
The question is; How much longer can the Edmonton Oilers wait for Ales Hemsky to step up, shoot the puck, and become "the Man" in Edmonton?