Ales Hemsky could have tried to play through the pain.
He could have gutted through after the Dallas Stars lost to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Oct. 22, taken a little bit of time off, and waited for his injured hip to feel better.
It would have been risky and it could have cost Hemsky the entire season.
That’s why he decided to have surgery around Halloween after playing just one game with Dallas and dedicated himself to playing again before the end of this season.
“I don’t think I’d be skating like I want,” Hemsky said last week. “My game is skating. And that’s how I help the team and that’s why I had to go for surgery.”
Hemsky started practicing with the team on a limited basis two weeks ago, and he’s getting closer.
“It’s going really well, and I think I’m pretty close,” Hemsky said. “I don’t think it’ll feel 100 percent (this season), when I had those major surgeries in the past, it takes a year to feel 100 percent. That’s just how it is.”
So what does Hemsky need to feel in order to greenlight a return to the Stars lineup?
“It’s pretty much on me when I feel comfortable,” Hemsky said. “I feel better on the ice. We don’t practice that much, so it’s harder to test it. But it’s still just a matter of time. I’ll know (when it’s ready).”
The Stars five-day bye might have been the perfect opportunity for Hemsky to test his health. While other players took vacations or got away from the rink, he’s been working by himself in Frisco and could potentially be a full participant in practice on Thursday.
Hindsight being 20-20, maybe Hemsky shouldn’t have played for the Czech Republic at the World Cup of Hockey back in September.
“I knew my hip was not great before and I was kind of questioning whether I should go to World Cup,” Hemsky said. “Because it was pretty early and you don’t have any kind of warmup. Like in (training) camp you can kind of ease into the season. In the World Cup you just jump in right away into a different level.”
For Hemsky returning to the ice this season will be a key to his future. He’s an unrestricted free agent this coming offseason, and several teams will be keeping tabs on how the 33-year-old Czech looks once he returns to NHL action.