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.