The choice between playing hurt or not playing at all was no choice for Ales Hemsky.

So he played through the shooting pain of a torn labrum all season before finally succumbing to the injury.

"I knew I had it for a little while," said Hemsky, after doctors informed him that he needs surgery, and nearly six months of recovery time. "I tried rehabbing last year and this year but it didn't do too much.

"I was kind of in pain the whole year, but I missed last season (after surgery on the other shoulder) so I didn't want to say too much. I wanted to play."

He talked it over with doctors and the training staff and they all decided that since he wouldn't be risking further injury by playing, to let him grit through it.

"It was kind of my decision," he said. "I didn't want to say too much (about the discomfort)."

It finally gave out two weeks ago, leaving him no choice but to have the surgery.

"If you have a tear you can play with it, a lot of players have tears, sometimes you don't even know," he said. "It's just when it starts being painful and bugging you in normal life, you can't lift your shoulder, you want to get a look at what's going on inside, how big the tear is."

On the bright side, at least it won't hurt to raise his arms after a goal anymore.

"I had pain for the last two years. I'm looking forward to playing pain-free next year. I went through it last year, I know what to do to get ready. Finally I can play pain free."

Gritty Euro: They say he could be from Kindersley as easily as Kuopio.