"[The] ideal scenario would be to move them on and wish them the best," MacTavish then told The Team 1260 in Edmonton.
Fast-forward to the present and Horcoff is now a Dallas Star, but Hemsky remains an Oiler.
Speaking at Rexall Place during the Oilers' Hockey School on Wednesday, MacTavish addressed Hemsky's future and said he now believes he can be a useful piece for the club.
"We all know how good he is and we all know what an impact he had the last time the Oilers made the playoffs," he said. "We're hopeful that given this new environment and more competitive team going forward, that's really going to play to Ales' skill set and he'll be able to help us."
With a $5 million cap hit, MacTavish admitted he found little interest from other teams in the 29-year-old forward, but was comfortable with Hemsky remaining an Oiler.
"I know one thing, he's a real good player," he said. "Given the right situation, he is going to score 65 points in this league if he stays healthy. Those guys are normally pretty coveted."
Hemsky is in the final season of a two-year, $10 million deal. He had nine goals and 20 points in 38 games last season.
MacTavish also spoke about his plans to change the culture around the team on Wednesday, saying he only wants players willing to put in the effort it takes to win.
"It's incumbent on everyone in that locker room to really work to provide the type of working environment that we want. The type of productive, hard-working, non-complaining culture that we want," MacTavish said. "I'm really going to be diligent in my decision-making in terms of weeding out the complainers. We want guys that want to be here, that want to come to work every day. It's a difficult way at times to make a living, but you come to work every day, you put your sneakers on, your skates on, you get in the gym, and we want that hard-working culture. I'm going to be diligent in providing it."
While MacTavish says he will help provide that culture change, he expects the players to step up and create the proper environment.
"It's really up to leadership to provide that framework on what the expectation is for our hockey team," he said. "I know as a player that's the environment I liked to work under. I wanted like-minded guys who went to work every day. There's going to be shortcomings in your game, but there can't be shortcomings in your attitude or work ethic. I think that's the part that we really want to focus on."
The Oilers haven't made the playoffs since reaching the Stanley Cup Final in 2006, when they lost to the Carolina Hurricanes. Their last Stanley Cup victory came in 1990, when they defeated the Boston Bruins.