SUN Hockey Pool

Hemsky skates again

Oilers forward Ales Hemsky skated for the first time Monday as he tries to recover from shoulder...

Oilers forward Ales Hemsky skated for the first time Monday as he tries to recover from shoulder surgery last fall. (JORDAN VERLAGE/QMI Agency)

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:40 AM ET

Ales Hemsky took the first small step in his comeback Monday, skating for the first time since his shoulder surgery, but admits he has absolutely no idea what he’ll be coming back to when he returns to the lineup next fall.

“It’s been three and a half months and I got the green light from the doctors (to skate) so I’m pretty happy about that,” said Hemsky, who had to be extra careful not to bump into anyone at practice. “I still can’t do any contact. but it feels good, I don’t have any pain, it’s pretty much 70 per cent healed. I have lots of time before next season and with this injury, if you can heal it 100 per cent, it’ll be good.”

Hemsky can’t wait to start playing again, and can’t wait to see who’ll he be playing with. Jaromir Jagr, Jordan Eberle, and either one of Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin could all be in the mix.

On a team with a dismal past and terrible present, the future does at least provide some hope.

“To be honest I don’t know what management’s plan is,” said Hemsky. “We’ll have to wait till after the season to see what they will do, how the future will look. But it looks pretty good. We have a lot of young, good players coming up. We’ll see, it’ll take time.”

No matter which blue chip kid ends up here next year, Hemsky cautions against expecting too much, too soon.

He knows from personal experience that they’ll be walking into immense pressure - expected to be difference makers right out of the box, on a team that finished 30th the year before.

“Whoever they take it will be tough to come here and please everybody, so I feel kind of bad for them,” he said, adding it took him several years to emerge as a top end player. “It’ll be tough, a lot of people have expectations. They’ll be good players, but they need time, too. They are 18 year old kids. Not everybody is like Crosby or Ovechkin and can jump in the league and score 90-100 points.”

Hemsky’s own future in Edmonton isn’t even guaranteed; he’s an unrestricted free agent in two seasons and the Oilers are looking at every conceivable angle in their rebuilding efforts. But even though the season has been a major disappointment on all fronts, he says he truly enjoys playing here. When the team is having success, he says there’s no place like hockey country.

“It’s been tough times but I have a lot of great friends here and I feel like home here,” he said. “I don’t have a problem with anything with the city. I’ve met so many great people. I feel good. It’s frustrating for everybody if the hockey and everything doesn’t go well ... that’s the one thing we have to change for next year, but I don’t know what will happen.”

Peckham done for season ... Hemsky will likely have to make room on the Done For The Season aisle. Theo Peckham looks to be the eighth Oiler who’s out for the year after separating his shoulder Sunday against San Jose.

He’d join Hemsky, Nikolai Khabibulin, Sheldon Souray, Ryan Stone, Ladislav Smid, J-F Jacques and Ryan Jones on the shelf.

Peckham would have been served well by playing these last 10 games, but did enough in the games he did play to guarantee himself a good honest chance next year.

“That’s the kind of defenceman you want,” said head coach Pat Quinn, who likes them tough and simple. “Guys who know their position as far as protecting the net, playing hard in the corners, winning some pucks there and getting it going the other way. He fit into those categories. He likes contact and I like that in a player.”

robert.tychkowski@sunmedia.ca


Videos

Photos