Hemsky gushes over Gretz praise

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:21 AM ET

PHOENIX -- When Tiger Woods says you're a great golfer, you're a great golfer.

If Picasso calls you a great painter, you're a great painter.

So it's no wonder Ales Hemsky stood up and took notice yesterday when Wayne Gretzky called him one of the premier talents in the game today.

"He's a great player, he's one of the elite players in the game," said the Phoenix head coach and managing partner, who's always been impressed with Hemsky's flair and creativity.

"His skill is as good as anyone's in the National Hockey League.

"He takes a hit to make a play, he might be the best passer in the game, he sees the open guys as good or better than anyone at this level.

"I really have a lot of respect for him as a player. I've said for years he's one of the best players in the game."

Gretzky even went on to say that even he "wasn't as smooth," as No. 83.

"He's got tremendous smoothness and incredible hands.

"There's a few guys in the league who can pass the puck better than the other guys, and I think Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg see the ice as well as anybody in hockey, but I think Hemsky is right in that class."

Hemsky didn't know what to say.

"It's nice to hear things like that from somebody like him, he was a great player," said Hemsky. "It's a nice feeling. He was the best player in the game, the best in history."

Head coach Craig MacTavish says Hemsky is taking big strides this season in elevating his game to superstar level.

"He's always had great offensive flair, but he's more productive now than he was before.

"I can't think of too many more exciting players in the game than Hemmer. What electrifies people is his one-on-one ability, taking the puck with speed to dangerous areas."


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