SUN Hockey Pool

Oilers Hemsky shouldered pain

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:41 PM ET

The choice between playing hurt or not playing at all was no choice for Ales Hemsky.

So he played through the shooting pain of a torn labrum all season before finally succumbing to the injury.

I knew I had it for a little while, said Hemsky, after doctors informed him that he needs surgery, and nearly six months of recovery time. I tried rehabbing last year and this year but it didnt do too much.

I was kind of in pain the whole year, but I missed last season (after surgery on the other shoulder) so I didnt want to say too much. I wanted to play.

He talked it over with doctors and the training staff and they all decided that since he wouldnt be risking further injury by playing, to let him grit through it.

It was kind of my decision, he said. I didnt want to say too much (about the discomfort).

It finally gave out two weeks ago, leaving him no choice but to have the surgery.

If you have a tear you can play with it, a lot of players have tears, sometimes you dont even know, he said. Its just when it starts being painful and bugging you in normal life, you cant lift your shoulder, you want to get a look at whats going on inside, how big the tear is.

On the bright side, at least it wont hurt to raise his arms after a goal anymore.

I had pain for the last two years. Im looking forward to playing pain-free next year. I went through it last year, I know what to do to get ready. Finally I can play pain free.

Gritty Euro: They say he could be from Kindersley as easily as Kuopio.

Winger Teemu Hartikainen, by all reports, is the kind of big, gritty power forward the Edmonton Oilers have long been after.

At 6-foot-1, 215 pounds and with 42 points in 66 AHL games this season, he has the tools to make a serious impression.

And now, thanks to the flood of injuries to Edmontons forward, hes getting a chance. He had his first practice with the team on Tuesday and draws in Thursday against Phoenix.

We like that in our lineup, its that blue-paint contribution that you need in todays game, said head coach Tom Renney. Hes a strong player, strong willed, thats certainly something that were looking to add.

Itll be interesting to see how he handles this stage of the season because were playing teams that are desperately looking for points.

Hartikainen, 20, doesnt come with a dazzling pedigree (few players selected 163rd do) but hes worked his way into the picture by rolling up his sleeves in Oklahoma City.

Im not surprised that hes here, said Renney. Id like it to be under different circumstances, but the bottom line is that hes here. I like the starting point, I like what I see in his character. That can go a long way.

Hartikainen figured hed get the call at some point, he just wasnt sure when.

I think it was only a matter of time, he said. I knew that somehow it was coming. But Im a sixth rounder, this is my first year over here, so I couldnt expect anything like this this year, so its good.

His goals are simple: Do here what he did down in Oklahoma.

Just be a good team player, score some goals, hit the guys, be a gritty player, do the things Ive been doing the last three years.

Walking wounded: Shawn Horcoff knows the bad luck could be worse. But that doesnt make moderate doses of bad luck easier to swallow.

Hes out 7-10 days, at least, with a crack on the outside of the ankle bone after being hit by a puck. When thats the good news its been a tough season.

Its been a frustrating year for both the team and individually, he sighed. With the knee injury and this Im going to miss over a third of the season, but you cant do much about it. It could have been four to six weeks, so you take the positives and get back soon.

JF Jacques also took a puck on the foot and is limping around in a walking cast while Gilbert Brule is out with a concussion after his hit on Kris Letang Sunday in Pittsburgh.

Worlds pass: Taylor Hall says hell pass on the World Championships, even if hes healthy enough to go.

Obviously you have to be asked, said the rookie, whos currently out with a high ankle sprain. But I thought about that and I dont think it would be right for a player to miss eight weeks and then go in there and play. I think someone else could do a little better job.

robert.tychkowski@sunmedia.ca

Twitter.com/TYCHKOWSKI


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