Ales Hemsky is still here; 490 games, 10 years and eight National Hockey League seasons after the Edmonton Oilers made him the 13th pick in the 2001 entry draft. And that's worth noting, because only three other players from that first round are wearing the same jerseys they modelled on such a pivotal day in their hockey lives -Ottawa's Jason Spezza, Florida's Stephen Weiss and Minnesota's Mikko Koivu -underscoring the transient nature of the game as much as the crapshoot element in the draft. It is also remarkable because Hemsky survived the first truly unnerving trade deadline of his career Monday; knowing for certain he was on the block, unsure only of where he might land if indeed he took off his Oiler togs. He had a pre-deadline conversation with GM Steve Tambellini, who didn't try to snow him. If the deal was there, Hemsky was on the move, a tenured soldier sacrificed to the rebuild. But the offers were not substantial enough for the Oilers to trade the man Tambellini called their best player. So there he was Tuesday, still the second-longest serving Oiler behind captain Shawn Horcoff, fielding queries about his future and that of the only NHL team for which he has played. "I understand the business. I understand if they get something that will work out for the future because it's still a young team and they could do it. I don't have a hard feeling about that," said Hemsky, in his trademark quirky mix of tenses. "It doesn't bug me. I didn't think about it and I'm still here and that's my only focus. "I was on the block. I can't say I wasn't. But yeah, they show they want me here and I want to be here. I never said I don't want to be here." Dustin Penner didn't ask for the door either, but he is sunning himself in La-La Land today and Ales still lives here, happily, he stressed several times, in the city that global warming forgot. After playing against the Nashville Predators on Tuesday, he is exactly 100 regular season games away from unrestricted free agency that might make him richer elsewhere but he doubts would make him any happier than he is in Edmonton.
Hemsky happy in Edmonton - for now
Edmonton Journal | Mar 2