SHELDON SOURAY: WHY NOT SHUT UP AND WAIT?

Robin Brownlee
April 12 2010 01:52PM

Calgary Flames v Edmonton Oilers

Sheldon Souray wants a trade? There's a news bulletin. We never saw that one coming. My question, and it's purely rhetorical, is this: does Souray think he's helped his cause by putting words to what people close to the Edmonton Oilers have long suspected?

The answer, of course, is a resounding no. By at long last going on the record with Mark Spector of Sportsnet.ca, about his desire to be traded by the Oilers with the team cadaver barely cold after Sunday's 7-2 loss in Anaheim, Souray has guaranteed that GM Steve Tambellini will have a more difficult time moving him. And that's a mouthful, really, when you consider how little value an injury prone, 33-year-old defenceman with a bloated contract like Souray has on the NHL market to begin with.

Instead of biding his time and waiting to be moved, which is something Souray wanted long before he finally started making noises that he wouldn't block a trade to certain teams this season, he pointed a gun at Tambellini's head, then pulled the trigger and blew his own brains out at the same time.

That'll get Souray what he wants.

TIMING IS EVERYTHING

I've got no problem with Spector going with the story because if I had Souray on the record saying the same things, I'd have run to my laptop like my hair was on fire, too.

Some fans would argue I did exactly that last April when I suggested Souray wanted out -- something he denied not long after -- without having him on the record saying so, but that's a whole different story.

It seemed obvious to me then Souray was unhappy here and that he'd prefer to be elsewhere. But, without anything on the record from Souray himself -- he didn't respond to e-mails and interview requests regarding his situation -- it was only gut instinct and speculation.

Besides, one could put Souray's discontent down to having just finished a lousy season in which the team missed playoffs for the third straight year or to family matters that came to light since his arrival in Edmonton.

With a summer to simmer down and coach Craig MacTavish shown the door, talk of that discontent faded until Souray started making noises about waiving his no-movement clause and giving Tambellini a list of teams he'd be willing to move to. I'm wondering, though, did Souray actually ask to be traded behind closed doors before going public?

Which brings us to Monday's Big Bang with Spector with Souray airing grievances dating all the way back to the first game he played for the Oilers -- namely, the accusation he was rushed back from surgery by management.

SHUT UP AND WAIT

I can understand Souray's frustration at being property of a team he hasn't wanted to be part of for some time, but how was Tambellini supposed to make at deal at the last deadline with Souray done for the season after surgery on his hand? How? Don't take that question as a broad brush defence of the job Oilers management -- be it Tambellini or Kevin Lowe -- has done through four straight non-playoff years, because it's not. There's been more than enough bungling by the front office to make that folly.

Again, though, how was Tambellini supposed to move damaged goods like Souray at the deadline? Did Tambellini have the "move me" edict March 3? Now, by going public instead of biding his time, what has Souray done to expedite a ticket out of town? Nothing, that's what.

Was Tambellini supposed to take a box of tape or a bucket of pucks for Souray at the deadline? Was there any real interest in Souray last month? Has Souray done anything to enhance his value with his "I want a trade" proclamation? No, no and no. As if injuries hadn't made him a tough sell already, what Souray has done is further diminish what Tambellini is likely to get for him. That's cutting off your nose to spite your face, no?

NOW WHAT?

Chris Pronger took a lot of crap when his request for a trade out of Edmonton became public within hours of the Oilers Game 7 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes in the 2006 Stanley Cup. Some people are drawing parallels with Souray. As I see it, there's a difference.

For starters, Pronger actually delivered value for his contract during the one season he was here. He earned every penny of that $6.25 million he was getting paid. Considering Pronger let Oilers management know he wanted out midway through the season, he was a total pro, keeping his wishes in-house until the story was broken after the Cup final by Al Strachan, a friend of Don Meehan and the agency representing Pronger. His trade request was on the table with management for months before it got out.

Once the cat was out of the bag, Pronger was vague about his reasons for wanting out, but he never lambasted the organization's management as Souray just did -- at a time those very people were trying to trade him. Souray has not delivered value for the money he's been paid in the first three years of his contract here. And, on that front, I'm calling BS on his claim he had other options for more money than signing with the Oilers. That's not what Souray told us in the past.

The bottom line is this: in one fell swoop, Souray just made it more difficult to get what he wants and for the Oilers to get anything resembling a return for him. That's a lose-lose proposition if ever there was one.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#151 Jon
April 12 2010, 09:28PM
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Colin wrote:

So...who's wearing the "C" next season now my fellow internet speculators?

Ethan Moreau. No one wanted him at the deadline because he had a full year left....he'll still have a full year left at the beginning of next season too.

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#152 Matt Henderson
April 12 2010, 09:34PM
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Jon wrote:

Ethan Moreau. No one wanted him at the deadline because he had a full year left....he'll still have a full year left at the beginning of next season too.

I fear this statement to be true.

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#153 Eddie Shore
April 12 2010, 09:34PM
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God help us.

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#154 Reggie
April 12 2010, 09:44PM
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okay the one thing that puzzles me. why would Souray come out and say this now ? why not burn the bridges on the way out of town ?

so, it makes me wonder. He's obviously let the team know he wanted out (stronger than I would waive the NTC to give the team flexibility).

So, then why come out swinging ? Did Tambo say, we will wait until July 1 and trade you wherever ? Did Tambo say sorry Sheldon, we have decided that you will hang around since we moved Lubo. We might move you at the trade deadline next year or the year after ? or did he say, you are here for the duration ... enjoy ... LOL

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#155 6 ring circus
April 12 2010, 10:24PM
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Maybe Souray is telling the truth about being asked to play even though he was not ready.Did this team not lead the league in man games lost this past season? maybe the players where being told to suck it up,Souray obviously felt it was time to speak up,I would hope that Katz will evaluate his management team and hockey operations because of everthing that has transpired here the past few seasons,but that would be to much to ask from him right Mr Katz?

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#156 OregonStateFan
April 12 2010, 10:30PM
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Reggie, it's actually more like burning the bridges before leaving town. Souray is frustrated he's playing for a loser, and also frustrated that he's been playing injured for the past three seasons.

The reality of the matter is that Souray is injury prone with a massive contract (see: Ryan Smyth). If you're a team looking for that monster shot from the blueline or looking for that leadership chip, he's it - but you're also scared that he'll be out by the time the playoffs roll around. Case in point, this season.

Let's face it, the playoffs are gravy for hockey teams and are the reason GMs build teams. Stanley cup winners sell tickets, sell merchandise, and help attract players (for discounts - see Detroit) as well. If you're trying to make a case to pick up Souray, the fact that he's likely to be out or injured come playoff time weighs pretty heavily at this point. A simple rule to follow is the more injuries you have, the more prone to injury you are. Yes, I'm taking a bit of a tangent, but I'll wrap it back together.

After seeing the fire sale at the end of the year and no one from management approaching him to be a leader of the team, Souray is obviously frustrated. Most of the defensive core has been gutted (Grebeshkov, Staios, Visnovsky) and Souray will have to play without a veteran pairing (sorry Smid). Souray would also like to put up huge numbers; I mean, who wouldn't like to be associated with being an all-star, but Souray has little chance to put up points when he's injured.

It boils down to this. Souray thinks that if he just wasn't injured, he'd be putting up huge point totals, would be coveted by any team in the league, and would have no problem getting out of town if he desired. That option isn't there because of his injuries and his poor performance in general (although he seemed to be playing well prior to the concussion a la Iginla). So, not seeing a way out, he swallowed the poison pill and hoped the Oilers will make a deal like the Sens did with Heatley. Problem is, Heatley wasn't injured.

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#157 Sabazz
April 12 2010, 11:04PM
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Why speak up now?

Because he probably asked for a trade a year ago. My gut says he's frustrated with nothing happening and he's trying to force movement from a GM who we can't really be certain is even alive right now. He could care or less about trade value. Being a nice guy would mean that tambo would evaluate another year and do nothing waiting for the perfect trade to come along. This forces movement. The oilers shouldn't be delusional about what they should get for him. I would be happy with nothing in return.

Shelly is looking out for number 1 but his comments about management confirm what is obvious when a team is far and away the worst team in the league. We need a complete change in management and culture. The situation is toxic and can't be fixed unless there is a complete overhaul

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#158 Librarian Mike
April 12 2010, 11:10PM
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I'll tell you something; Tambellini's going to evaluate the s**t out of those statements.

I really hope Lowe is there for Garbage Bag Day tomorrow...

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#159 Jagrbaum
April 12 2010, 11:18PM
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Hey Robin

Just wondering if Hemsky is at odds with Management aswell. The day he asks for a trade is my worst nightmare.

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#160 Sandra Blood
April 13 2010, 12:13AM
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I agree with Sheldon, The Oilers are a "boys club" with loyalty only to the exclusive, Either Kevin Lowe is a Daryll Sutter or he was extremly high with his moves he made. Now we have Tamillini who he hired who would not have more than 3 press conferences a year. Always looks tired because as Dan Tencer says "He's so busy" doing what? Assessing the talent in the organization? If you want transitional players that sign here for 1-2 years like Phoenix did. Maybe get a few rejects for cheap who will compete for a contract. But no not with tight lips Tambi, who will be the reason why we can't even be like Phoenix. Souray wanting out is no news, or for that matter Moreau. the Oilers won't pick Hall because he wants number 4 and Lowe does not want any one wearing it. And I did read some where in the begging of the season that Hemsky wanted out, I quoted it on here and Robyn laughed at me. But as Fred Flintstone said today, your 6 months ahead of everyone.

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#162 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
April 13 2010, 08:21AM
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So Tencer was speculating that Souray missed the exit meeting once before, what is stopping him from doing it today? I won't be suprised if we hear nothing else on this from Souray.

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#163 JohnQPublic
April 13 2010, 09:46AM
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The title of the piece says it all. Souray is either prone to emotional outbursts, or it's a manipulative plan cooked up with his agent.

Either way it's a Souray character issue, not an Oiler issue.

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#164 jk
April 13 2010, 10:16AM
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oh Robin,

yes we know ... you already broke the story .... nobody listened .... no one would go on the record ... or, talk to you ..... :(

"some fans would argue....." sheeeeesh ... go back to the sun.

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#165 Randy
April 13 2010, 10:35AM
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The disturbing thing is not Souray's comments, or even that he did comment. It is the pattern forming. Several years ago Comrie stormed out of town yelling over his shoulder that management was screwy, calling Lowe a liar and suggesting he had been ignored. Then Ryan Smyth left, for the most part, because he felt he had been ignored until it was too late. Then Glencross, and now Souray. Maybe they are all cry babies, and maybe they are also a sign of a systemic organizational flaw.

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#167 dawgtoy
April 13 2010, 01:24PM
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"Robin Brownlee of Oilers nation wrote an article on Whitney's foot injuries the other day. I link to it out of common courtesy as I'll reference it, but I don't recommend reading it. Brownlee wades into the world of Yellow Journalism by writing all kinds of overtures about Whitney's health and purposefully throwing a scare into Oiler fans over what is essentially, not news."

This is a quote from the Copper&Blue's Derek Zona. I have to assume the two of you do not play nice together.

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#168 Dustin
April 13 2010, 02:14PM
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Robin, maybe it didn't help HIS cause or Management's cause but maybe, just maybe he was trying to make things a litle better for his teammates while he still has a voice with the team. Your article makes perfect sense, but it assumes that standing up for his teammates wasn't part of his motive.

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#169 Shinny Steve
April 13 2010, 02:40PM
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I know I am going to get blasted for this comment, and I know the scribes on this website are going to throw out my claim, tell me that I am not in the know, tell me I am wrong because I am not connected throughout the league..........

BUT.............

Souray never asked for a trade last year, or at the start of this year. I know his family personally, and the fact is that just before the deadline, he talked about how circumstances had changed, and that he was willing to waive his NTC. Whatever the circumstances are, I dont know. I DO know that he never once asked for a trade in the summer or at the start of the season. I also happen to know that he didnt want to leave because he enjoyed playing here, the fans, the city, being around his family and closer to his mom. If you dont believe, then I realy dont care. Im just stating the facts.

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#170 Racki
April 13 2010, 03:49PM
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Personally the way I see it, I'm glad he was honest about problems here, if they are actually true and not just him being butthurt by the inability to trade him.

Really, this team is in rebuild mode, and now is exactly the time that I want to be hearing about problems with this player, that player, coaching or management... not a few years down the road when things are starting to get on a roll. I mean, you never REALLY want to hear this stuff, but if you are going to hear it, now is the right time. Get this stuff all settled and cleaned up now, while we're starting fresh.

I have a lot of respect for Souray and was happy he came here and wish him best wherever he goes. I thought he was a pretty good, vocal leader who held himself and others accountable. It's disappointing to hear him being flamed by fans and media here (not saying anyone specific, it's coming from all over). Just once I'd like to see a player move on, and the fans say "thanks for what you did here" and move on.

So when can we expect stories about Souray skipping town because he knocked up a few women? :P

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#171 BigE91
April 13 2010, 04:54PM
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Matt Henderson wrote:

I fear this statement to be true.

I'll take the Ethan Moreau that played the last 10 games or so as Captain.........

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#172 Slenster
April 13 2010, 06:45PM
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I agree that Souray should've kept his mouth shut. I also feel the 15 million plus he's been paid over the last three years is a gross overpayment for his results. But hey, the Oilers must have the NHL record for most expensive NHL injury list, so what's new. Get Souray out of here before he can ruin every current and future Oiler's desire to be here.

Oh and Robin, I quite like reading you on the nation for free every day! Keep up the Honest effort and good work! (Yes you may assume I'm to cheap to buy a paper)

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