The deep sigh came from Rexall Place Friday night as the Edmonton Oilers playoff aspirations took a major blow.
The Oilers announced Ales Hemsky has to undergo shoulder surgery, which will more than likely put a premature end to his season.
The Oilers winger took a hit from Los Angeles Kings forward Michal Handzus on Wednesday that aggravated an injury he had already been carrying.
“I had it for a while, probably a month or something,” said Hemsky. “I tried to deal with it for a little while. It wasn’t the hit (Wednesday) that was just the last straw for me. I talked to the doctors this morning and we decided that this was the right time to do it, that it was the best option for me.”
Hemsky, 26, can’t place when the originally injury occurred, however, he’s been playing with a tear in the labrum of his left shoulder. It’s a similar injury Ethan Moreau, Shawn Horcoff and Sheldon Souray suffered, all three of which had to be shut down for the season two years ago.
“It’s frustrating because it’s a big year for a lot of players,” Hemsky said. “Especially considering it’s an Olympic year, but there is nothing I can do. It’s no fun playing with an injury like that. I tried, but it just didn’t work out.”
In 22 games for the Oilers this season, Hemsky had seven goals and 15 assists for 22 points. He was the Oilers second-leading scorer behind Dustin Penner and was expected to represent the Czech Republic at the Vancouver Olympics in February.
“The good part is that they feel that there is good strength in the bone structure and they’re very confident it’s going to heal very well,” said Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini. “There was some instability in the shoulder and that’s what they were concerned with going forward. They’d rather do the surgery with as healthy a shoulder as possible so that’s why they decided to do the surgery now.”
Hemsky’s injury just adds to the pile of bodies on the shelf for the Oilers this season. Heading into Friday night’s contest against the San Jose Sharks, the Oilers had already lost 146 man-games due to injury.
They’re already without Robert Nilsson (concussion), Taylor Chorney (ankle), Mike Comrie (mono), Denis Grebeshkov (knee), Nikolai Khabibulin (back), Fernando Pisani (colitis), Ryan Stone (knee), and Marc Pouliot (sports hernia).
“A lot of teams deal with injuries at different times of the year,” said Tambellini. “This has been a hard month for us, dealing with the flu virus, concussions and now this with Ales. But that’s what you’re dealt with and we’ll find ways to get through.
“We’ll see how our guys react. There are some people that we know we can get more out of offensively. So we’ll see how this group reacts and we want to see how the team looks with some people coming back in a couple of weeks. But these situations can present opportunity also, so we’ll see what happens.”