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Principe's Blog: Ales in Wonderland

Gene Principe examines Hemsky's future in Edmonton following the 2011 deadline

Tuesday, 01.03.2011 / 8:40 PM / Blogs
By Gene Principe
Unaware of what the next few hours would bring, Ales Hemsky skates during Oilers practice on deadline day.
Well the media on Tuesday morning did something most NHL teams can't do. We cornered Ales Hemsky and wouldn't let him out until he answered every question. He politely obliged but it was an interesting 10 minutes with Ales Hemsky that revealed a lot about him or at least  my interpretation of reading between the lines of what Hemsky had to say the day after trade deadline day in the NHL.

First off, let's be clear on one thing: Ales Hemsky is happy to still be an Oiler after weeks of endless rumours about where he would be headed. This is all he's ever known since Edmonton plucked him with the 13th pick of the draft in 2001. This after he had 100 and 97 point seasons for the Hull Olympiques.

When you look back at those days Hemsky looked even younger than 18. He doesn't look much older than that these days even though his body probably feels a little older than that.

He spoke about all the messages he received from friends, that he enjoys his teammates, that he has a girlfriend in town and that he truly likes being not only an Oiler but being in Edmonton. He went onto say that he likes what Edmonton is doing with the rebuild and that he's excited about all the young players that the Oilers have brought in to help this team recapture some of it's former glory. However when the topic turns to Hemsky and the Oilers past the length of his deal which has one more season left on it he waffles more than Aunt Jemima.

The winger was asked about as many different ways possible about how he feels about the future and specifically his future with Edmonton. He was like a school kid avoiding a dodgeball. Moving left, feigning right he did everything to not come right out and say it but Ales Hemsky could certainly be headed to unrestricted free agency July 1st of 2012.  Now if the Oilers make him an offer he can't refuse that might change things but it sounded like he wants to be a free man and potentially go the highest bidder.

The questions kept coming with the point of trying to lead Hemsky down the path of making a verbal commitment to stay and play in Edmonton but he wasn't going there. For all the times he spoke highly of Edmonton and every thing he likes about what the Oilers were doing he made it clear it would depend on a lot of things the least of which is winning. The 27 year old, excluding 2006, hasn't done much winning in Edmonton. More of that seems to be on the way but is he willing to wait for it to start.

UFA are three of a player's favourite letters when strung together. Hemsky has the chance to be one and it sounded like he wants that chance to be on the open market which could close the book on his career with Edmonton.
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