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Ales Hemsky is likely the least-healthy non-Rick DiPietro in the league today, having played just 559 NHL games despite having been on the Oilers’ gameday roster since he was 19, in 2002-03. Nine seasons, 559 games. A little more than 62 a year if my math’s right, and it is, because I used a calculator.
The reason this history of being as brittle-boned as a particularly weak baby bird is important is not because Hemsky, might actually be able to play a full season when this one is shortened (not that I’d count on that), but rather because like most European-born NHLers, he’s looking for a deal to return to his home country and get regular paychecks while all this whatever-it-is gets sorted out Stateside. Instead, it’s important because it is part of a consideration might prevent him and others from signing overseas.
Two things are important to note first: One, there’s a team in Hemsky’s hometown in the Czech Republic, and his dad is its general manager, so it seems very likely that he’ll pull a contract out of it, but others might not be so lucky.
“I don’t think there will be a lot of open jobs,” Hemsky told QMI. “The KHL is only taking a few guys, Sweden isn’t taking anybody. The Czechs will just take Czech guys, and maybe a few others, because they don’t have the money for the insurance.”
Oooo, that last part. How much does it cost to insure Hemsky, you might be wondering? How about $25,000 per month? And that’s not even life insurance! That’s “Oh hell Hemsky’s shoulder fell off again” insurance. Granted, that’s not much considering what he’s earned in his career, or what his upcoming two-year, $10 million contract will pay him, but 25 grand? Gee whiz.
This is a very common thing: If NHLers, whether they’re typically ultra-durable or injury-prone, go overseas, they need to be covered by an insurance policy. Most teams provide them, but some don’t. Already, as many several dozen NHL agents, on behalf of the players they represent, have sought quotes on this kind of coverage. Basil McRae — yeah, what? — alone has advised between 50 and 100 NHL players on the matter. The kind of cost involved might lead a lot of players to just stay the hell home and work out with their buddies or something.
As for whether that kind of insurance covers having your being kidnapped in Magnitogorsk or the bail money needed when your KHL team plants drugs on you, I don’t know.
But this might be just what Hemsky needs. He played in 47 of Paradubice’s 52 games during the last lockout, and that’s only like 10 percent of the season missed, compared with his usual almost-20. So playing overseas might actually be an improvement.
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