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 didn’t 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 didn’t 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 wouldn’t be risking further injury by playing, to let him grit through it.
“It was kind of my decision,” he said. “I didn’t 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 don’t even know,” he said. “It’s just when it starts being painful and bugging you in normal life, you can’t lift your shoulder, you want to get a look at what’s going on inside, how big the tear is.”
On the bright side, at least it won’t hurt to raise his arms after a goal anymore.
“I had pain for the last two years. I’m 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 Edmonton’s forward, he’s 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, it’s that blue-paint contribution that you need in today’s game,” said head coach Tom Renney. “He’s a strong player, strong willed, that’s certainly something that we’re looking to add.
“It’ll be interesting to see how he handles this stage of the season because we’re playing teams that are desperately looking for points.”
Hartikainen, 20, doesn’t come with a dazzling pedigree (few players selected 163rd do) but he’s worked his way into the picture by rolling up his sleeves in Oklahoma City.
“I’m not surprised that he’s here,” said Renney. “I’d like it to be under different circumstances, but the bottom line is that he’s here. I like the starting point, I like what I see in his character. That can go a long way.”
Hartikainen figured he’d get the call at some point, he just wasn’t sure when.
“I think it was only a matter of time,” he said. “I knew that somehow it was coming. But I’m a sixth rounder, this is my first year over here, so I couldn’t expect anything like this this year, so it’s 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 I’ve been doing the last three years.”
Walking wounded: Shawn Horcoff knows the bad luck could be worse. But that doesn’t make moderate doses of bad luck easier to swallow.
He’s out 7-10 days, at least, with a crack on the outside of the ankle bone after being hit by a puck. When that’s the good news … it’s been a tough season.
“It’s been a frustrating year for both the team and individually,” he sighed. “With the knee injury and this I’m going to miss over a third of the season, but you can’t 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 he’ll pass on the World Championships, even if he’s healthy enough to go.
“Obviously you have to be asked,” said the rookie, who’s currently out with a high ankle sprain. “But I thought about that and I don’t 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.”