EDMONTON - The Edmonton Oilers will have to make do without star winger Ales Hemsky for the rest of the season.
Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini announced shortly before Friday's 5-4 shootout loss to the San Jose Sharks that Hemsky will require surgery on his left shoulder and will be sidelined for up to six months. The news comes as a huge blow to the Oilers, who after Friday lead the NHL with a 154 man games lost to injury.
"Obviously when you lose a player with the stature of Ales Hemsky it's difficult, but there is nothing we can do," said Tambellini.
"This has been a hard month on our players. They've had to battle with the flu virus, concussions and now this with Ales. But this is what we've been dealt and we'll have to find a way to get through it."
Hemsky was disappointed with the timing of the injury.
"It's frustrating because it's a big year for a lot of players," Hemsky said. "Especially considering it's an Olympic year, but there is nothing I can do. It's no fun playing with an injury like that. I tried, but it just didn't work out."
Hemsky had already been having trouble with the shoulder when he was drilled into the boards from behind Wednesday by Los Angeles Kings forward Michal Handzus.
"The hit hurt him but the problem was already there," added Tambellini. "There was already some instability in his shoulder before that happened.
"The good thing is (the medical staff) feel that it will heal very well once the surgery is completed."
In 22 games this season, the 26-year-old Hemsky has seven goals and 15 assists.
"I had it for a while, probably a month or something," said Hemsky said. "I tried to deal with it for a little while. It wasn't the hit, that was just the last straw for me."
Hemsky has played his entire career with the Oilers, skating in 443 games and collecting 353 points, including his 100th career goal Monday against Phoenix.