June 20 2011 05:34PM
Steve Tambellini stood his ground with Sheldon Souray. He made his point. Now, before the Edmonton Oilers GM buys out Souray, he should put a call into him. If Tambellini hears the right things from Souray in that conversation, he should consider inviting him to training camp.
As anybody who has followed the ongoing Souray saga at Oilersnation since rumblings the big defenceman wanted out of Edmonton surfaced, that statement marks a considerable shift in position. Some might say a flip-flop, although I don't see it that way
I didn't want Souray anywhere near a room full of young prospects like Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Magnus Paajarvi at camp last September after he went public with his discontent at the end of the 2009-10 season. I applauded when Tambellini told him not to bother showing up at training camp and later loaned him to the AHL.
Had Tambellini wavered then after being publicly shown up by Souray, it's my belief he'd have been gutted as GM. Paying Souray his full NHL salary to play in the minors, even on loan to another organization with the Hershey Bears, was better than having him in the room, even if it did little to make the most of the player as an asset.
Having made his point, the responsible thing for Tambellini to do in terms of what's best for the team paying his salary, is to consider bringing Souray back to the fold -- with conditions, of course.
WANTS AND NEEDS
Tambellini most certainly needs NHL defensemen and I think Souray still qualifies as one of those, even if he's obviously overpaid, getting long in the tooth and is breaking down.
Rather than pay Souray to go away via buy-out during the window to do so in the next couple of weeks, Tambellini should see if there's a chance to mend fences. That's not my idea, by the way. I got to thinking about it after a thought-evoking e-mail to TEAM 1260 by a fan this morning. The more I thought, the more it made sense. With caveats.
If playing in the minors for an entire season without having a single NHL team show any real interest in him -- the New York Rangers took a look but quickly said, "No thanks" -- hasn't humbled Souray and convinced him to simply shut up and play, then nothing will.
While I don't expect Souray to make a public apology for his criticism of the organization on getaway day at the end of the 2009-10 season, I would expect him to do it privately with Tambellini. I'd also expect him to pledge to provide veteran leadership to roster laden with youth. No bitching, no moaning. None of what got Souray gone in the first place.
If Souray does that, what legitimate reason, pride notwithstanding, would Tambellini have not to listen?
WORTH A TRY
Souray most certainly wants another NHL contract and this season is his best -- and last -- chance to earn one. Tambellini, as everybody knows, does not have a surplus of NHL defensemen.
If Souray toes the company line and stays healthy, maybe he gets that new deal he wants. If he does, Tambellini gets the benefit of Souray's skills, diminishing or not, and maybe gets something for Souray at the trade deadline. Not much, but something.
Souray has been force-fed a heaping helping of humble pie. If he's digested it and is willing to come back ready to play instead of to piss and moan about just about everything, as he used to, then it seems to me like it's worth a shot.
Tambellini won't know if that's a possibility until he at least picks up the telephone and sees if there's some mutually satisfactory business to be done. As GM of this team, that's a call he has to make.
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.