ST. PAUL -- Ales Hemsky's timetable is pretty simple: He'll be back with the Oilers as soon as the ice stops spinning and his head stops hurting.
When that is is anybody's guess, but head coach Craig MacTavish doesn't expect him back before the Jan. 21 All-Star break.
"He's not right," said the coach. "And we want to be careful and make sure we're not doing anything to undermine his long-term health."
Despite two practices with the team, Hemsky says there has been limited improvement.
He feels fine on dry land, but when he tries to wind it up on the ice, the symptoms kick in.
"I felt all right in the drills, but at the end of skating it showed that I'm not quite ready,"he said, adding he developed a headache at the end of yesterday's workout. "The lights (bother me). When guys skate by me it spins sometimes. When you still have those symptoms you're not quite ready yet.
"We tried some battles to see how the head would react and after the battles if I skated around I got dizzy sometimes. It shows me I'm not quite ready."
If he's not back until after the All-Star break, he'll have been out a month since Jordin Tootoo hit him shoulder to face on Dec. 28.
Nobody figured the symptoms would last this long. In fact, Hemsky didn't even realize he was concussed until the next day, when he described it as very mild.
"I finished the game,"he said. "Maybe it was the excitement and everything, and the nose was worse than the head, so I finished the game. I was feeling tired, but nothing bad."
Three weeks later, the symptoms are still there.
"I'm getting better for sure," said Hemsky. "Off the ice I'm better for sure. I'm sharp, I don't have headaches. Now another step (skating). You just have to take it slow, it's nothing we can rush.
"I would like to set a time but I don't know. I'm confused. It's kind of a tricky injury, there's nothing we can do.
"You can't cheat. If somebody hits you everything can go wrong again, you can be done for the year."