Big Sexy's big interview

Jason Gregor
April 12 2010 09:40AM

Calgary Flames v Edmonton Oilers

Take a deep breath Oilersnation... relax, inhale and look at how the Sheldon Souray trade request will impact the team. Souray told Mark Spector he wants out, and you shouldn’t be shocked by Souray’s request.

But why he wants out is the bigger issue.

Here’s what he said to Spector.

"I don’t talk to anyone (in management) and I don’t expect to when I check out of here. I don’t really need to talk to them. There isn’t anything to say.

"Management has soured on me, and I’ve soured on them," he continued. "The fans are great, they’ve accepted me here, I see the jerseys in the stands. I couldn’t have pictured a more opposite vision of what my experience here would be like. What the organization here would be like, overall."

"I feel now that, when I signed here, I probably was as blinded by their great past as (the Oilers) are," Souray said. "People will question me, that they overpaid me … that it was a bad decision to sign me. But I can tell you this: I turned down more money in other places."

"I got challenged by management on the very first day of my first training camp. The very first day," he said. "They said, ‘When are you going to play?’ I said, ‘I have a six month (shoulder) injury and I’m at five months.’ But I played.

"The Oilers always prided themselves in being a family. Whatever happened to that? I haven’t talked to (Tambellini) since mid-January."

Here we are a day after the season ended and the drama of the off-season will only intensify with Souray’s comments.

Steve Tambellini is not the best communicator to guys on his own management team, so I’m not stunned he hasn’t spoken with Souray, however, I doubt one phone call to see how he was doing was going to change Souray’s mind.

Souray was bang on when he said it was a mutual “souring” between him and management. Tambellini would have traded him at the deadline if he didn’t break his hand in a fight with Jarome Iginla.

Souray didn’t see eye-to-eye with Craig MacTavish or Kevin Lowe, but neither of those guys are in the same position when Souray signed.

I appreciate when a player speaks his mind, and Souray was never afraid to answer any question, but what is gained by demanding a trade today?

Souray has a no-movement clause until June 30th, so he controls where he gets dealt despite his public demand. Even once July 1st hits he and his agent still have some say, because they will undoubtedly tell teams where he wants to play. No team will trade for a $5.4 cap-hit player who doesn’t want to be in their organization.

So what was Souray’s motivation?

He wants the world to know he wasn’t treated fairly? That Tambellini didn’t check up on him? Or that the Oilers management team isn’t as professional as the New Jersey Devils or Montreal Canadiens?

The Devils traded him at the deadline in 2000 to Montreal, the year they won their 2nd Stanley Cup. The Habs didn’t re-sign after he scored 26 goals. Why?

I don’t see Souray’s demand as another low point for the organization, because they can’t get lower than 30th. Souray is not Chris Pronger. The Rake led the Oilers to game seven of the Stanley Cup finals, while the Oilers haven’t made the dance once in Souray’s three seasons.

It is clear that Souray was frustrated and annoyed with Tambellini and the Oilers and the last three years have been tough, but it hasn’t been any harder on him than other players and the fans that have loyally doled out thousands of dollars only to watch a below-average product for three years.

While Souray has a right to be annoyed he should look in the mirror and realize that he isn’t completely innocent either.

He was part of a leadership group that missed the playoffs three years running. He was in the room where harmony was questioned. He accuses Tambellini of not being “family oriented” yet the area he could control, the dressing room, was far from harmonious.

Both sides are to blame in this divorce, and I think both sides will be better off without one another moving forward. Now it is up to Tambellini to try and salvage something out of Souray’s tenure in Edmonton.

The most important off-season in Oiler history starts today, and it just got a bit more interesting with Souray’s comments.

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One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
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#201 OilFan
April 12 2010, 02:37PM
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Andrie Markov the number one reason Souray is making anywhere close to 5 million a year, same goes to Mark Striet and Mike Komisarek. Over rated and not needed on this team

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#202 Scott in Grande Prairie
April 12 2010, 02:56PM
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@SirFozz

Good point. Can't really argue because I'm not anywhere near the Oilers' front office or their dressing rooms.

But I'm just not sure if I'm prepared to lump in Souray's state of "disgruntlement" (disgruntledness? disgruntitude?) in with Pronger's demands four years ago and Comrie's demands, uh, seven years ago. That's a pretty large span of time between incidents to connect any dots that would incriminate Oiler management, past and present.

Pronger left because his wife hated Edmonton. I can't even remember why Comrie left, but Comrie pretty much admitted when he came back last fall that his falling out with Lowe was as much his fault's as Lowe's.

Other than that, there was the Nylander thing, the Heatley mini-fiasco and I think that's about it.

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#203 jake
April 12 2010, 03:10PM
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If Souray was traded at deadline, does he go public with any of this "forcing to play" stuff?

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#204 madjam
April 12 2010, 03:13PM
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Chickenplucker wrote:

Why do you find it hard to believe that this sentiment exists in the Oilers organization?

Injured players are assessed and then their timelines for return are adjusted. If it was initially thought that Souray would be out for six months but the rehab was working well it is very possible that the timeline for his return would be adjusted and his return would be sooner than expected.

Injury timelines are rarely the length of time given at the initial assessment.

Seen first hand the extreme difficulties unions are having fighting the inequities of some of these . This battle has been raging for many a year now , and unions are having a tough time combating it or gaining any ground . What makes matters worse is the employees courage not to fight for their rights . Players union abilities is questionable as well . It's really frustrating when a player has no faith in management and their own union to protect them - they just succumb and take the brunt of it . It's one of those grey areas ( not the black and white picture most try to fit it into ) that needs clarity and cleaning up that does not protect the injured very well from both sides (union and management ).

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#205 Eddie Shore
April 12 2010, 03:41PM
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Let me see if I have this right..

Tambellini signed Souray to his ridiculous contract and then forced him to play injured at the very start of said ridiculous contract. ~Ya, ok.

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#206 Colin
April 12 2010, 06:18PM
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Eddie Shore wrote:

Let me see if I have this right..

Tambellini signed Souray to his ridiculous contract and then forced him to play injured at the very start of said ridiculous contract. ~Ya, ok.

Exactly. Not buying it.

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#207 Bill up North
April 12 2010, 07:43PM
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Tambellini didn't sign Souray to anything. Lowe did.

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#208 Bill up North
April 12 2010, 07:44PM
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Tambellini didn't sign Souray to anything. Lowe did.

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#209 Bartola
April 12 2010, 07:44PM
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@Eddie Shore

Dude.... Tambo didn't even sign Sourey...

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#210 Eddie Shore
April 12 2010, 08:11PM
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My bad. The point remains the same though. There is no point to force him to play at that point in time.

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#211 Matt Henderson
April 12 2010, 08:40PM
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@Eddie Shore

And yet the player in question is saying he was. So are we to think that he must be fabricating this because I personally cant justify playing him hurt; or do we think that he's telling the truth and the fact that it makes no sense to pressure injured players to play before they're ready early in the season makes it all the worse?

I know where I stand. No matter how you slice it, the fact that it makes no sense to force a guy to play injured doesnt mean it didnt happen.

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#212 Colin
April 12 2010, 09:08PM
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Matt Henderson wrote:

And yet the player in question is saying he was. So are we to think that he must be fabricating this because I personally cant justify playing him hurt; or do we think that he's telling the truth and the fact that it makes no sense to pressure injured players to play before they're ready early in the season makes it all the worse?

I know where I stand. No matter how you slice it, the fact that it makes no sense to force a guy to play injured doesnt mean it didnt happen.

If he wasnt lying about fatter offers being out there then this would be way more plausible.

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#213 Eddie Shore
April 12 2010, 09:10PM
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Colin wrote:

If he wasnt lying about fatter offers being out there then this would be way more plausible.

Exactly. Where does the lie end and where does the truth start?

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#214 David S
April 12 2010, 09:37PM
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Eddie Shore wrote:

My bad. The point remains the same though. There is no point to force him to play at that point in time.

There is if you've (EIG) just massively overpaid for a guy you acquired strictly to show the fans you were still a player in this city.

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#216 Skidplate
April 13 2010, 11:26AM
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Maybe Souray wants to be traded because of the frog rape that he is reluctant to talk about...

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