In what turned out to be a lackluster press conference that wasn’t streamed or made available to anyone outside of the immediate media, Ales Hemsky and Oilers GM Craig MacTavish essentially kiss and made up on Wednesday morning. The casual press conference that was held was used to smooth over all the trade chatter surrounding Hemsky that MacTavish once again admitted to igniting.
Courtesy of Gene Principe via Twitter, MacTavish told the media that he and Hemsky sat down at the end of last season and discussed what the future looked like here in Edmonton. It was at that time that both sides agreed that it may be in everyone’s best interest to move on.
Unfortunately for MacTavish, he found out the hard way that dealing a player isn’t always as easy as one hopes. Hemsky’s bloated salary and under production in the last couple of seasons, mirrored by his injury prone body made him a difficult piece to move. The Oilers have no choice but to kiss and make up with Hemsky, a talented and gifted winger that, when healthy can produce a point per game.
As for the presser itself, it was filled with the typical lines from MacTavish. He said all the right things that a GM is supposed to say when wanting to turn the page and make a player like Hemsky feel important. Considering he told him he would try and trade him, that’s the least he could do with the season less than a month away. Attempting to bury the hatchet so to speak, it’s one less major distraction that the Oilers don’t need hanging over their heads as they get set for training camp.
Principe was on the ball on this one, capturing quotes from both Hemsky and MacTavish. When addressing the trade chatter, Mac-T had the following to say, courtesy of Principe.
“Sometimes the best deals you make are the one’s you don’t make. When the team has had success, Ales has been a part of it.”
MacTavish followed that up by stating Hemsky is off the trade market and that he will play a prominent role in helping this club turn their fortunes around. MacTavish also declined to comment on whether he was close to dealing Hemsky or not, closing the book on what has been a circus for over two years.
Again, it’s no secret that MacTavish wanted to deal Hemsky and now he’s forced to eat crow by unsuccessfully trading him. Does Hemsky fit in with the new direction the Oilers are going? His health will be the biggest factor on how much he contributes to this team in what could be a third line role to start the season.
If Ryan Nugent-Hopkins starts the year on the shelf then Hemsky will likely get his shot to produce offensively as part of the second line. After that, it’ll depend on how well he’s playing and how well he’s fit into new head coach Dallas Eakins‘ game plan.
We know Eakins will demand top physical fitness accompanied by the highest compete level possible. In the past we’ve seen Hemsky sulk on the ice when things aren’t going his way and this type of behavior will surely lead to being put in Eakins’ dog house.
Hopefully that doesn’t happen and everyone can move on from all the drama that has surrounded Hemsky and the Oilers in the last few seasons. But the best indicator of future behavior is past performances, meaning we could hear trade chatter surrounding Hemsky in the not too distant future. Not that it would be surprising to many, making today just a mere formality.