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So Long Ales, We're Sorry It Doesn't Hurt More

The Oilers ship out yet another good NHL player for empty hope and failed promises.

Rich Lam

At this point, there's not much left to say about the state of the Oilers that wouldn't be considered beating a dead horse. We, as fans of this moribund franchise, are ephemeral rays being sucked into an eternity of doom by the black hole that is the Edmonton Oilers. Ales Hemsky was traded to the Ottawa Senators for not-even-magic beans today, the most recent Edmonton star shipped away before the age of 30 and the most recent competent NHL player shipped away for a vague, and now regular, paean to the future.

Losing an ultra-talented, loyal-to-a-fault star like Hemsky would be an incitement to panic in some towns, but in Edmonton it's just another day. A significant group of fans (and sports writers) cheered at the news today, their exultations a celebration of their own ignorance. For the rest of us, those who appreciate Hemsky's brilliance and realize that he was still the best right wing and second-best forward on the team, the trade for 2018's Travis Ewanyk and Tyler Bunz should have been soul-crushing. Instead, the trade was an inevitability, pre-destined by the last eight seasons of total incompetence in the front office at Rexall Place.

In 2006, Hemsky signed an incredibly Oilers-friendly contract and was rewarded for his loyalty with Keystone Cops in the front office. Eight seasons of Hemsky trying to haul along a team populated by a handful of legitimate NHL players. Eight seasons of sacrificing his body in charge after reckless charge into the offensive zone. Eight seasons as one of the best forwards in the game, wasted away on a franchise that has become a laughingstock not just in the NHL, but throughout the entirety of pro sports.

Throughout those eight seasons, we've been mentally and emotionally flogged: every decent NHL player that has walked onto the ice at Rexall has been ushered out of town in exchange for a future that is so far off even Asimov couldn't imagine it. Inside, we want to feel awful. We want to really miss Hemsky. But set against this putrid era of Oilers' hockey, his trade is nothing more than another rotten banana peel or wet coffee filter full of coffee grounds cast upon a giant garbage heap.

Sure the trade stings, but who feels a sting when the series of events that led to the trade left them comatose?