Big Sexy’s big interview

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.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

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.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

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?

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

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.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

  • I understand some backlash towards Souray, but given that Souray praised his teammates, the city and the fans, specifically targetting only management, I have one question for the wave of anti-Souray sentiment:

    Do you really want to defend this management group?

    This isn't Souray vs. the Oilers. This is Souray vs. the people who have made the Oilers the worst franchise in the NHL.

      • but this way he made it final: this is open conflict, not a negotiation. he's not looking for compromise he's looking for resolution.

        looks like Souray got good council.

        time was picked right too: after the last game, not to interfere with 'regular business'…

    • Twiggs

      pushing this further, if an investigation proves that players were not allowed full recovery time after an injury, this triggers management liability as far as Alberta Safety is concerned.

      if lawyers get involved, it can turn really ugly.

    • I totally agree. We have been ripping on the MGMT since Khabi signed here. It's tough to pick sides, but I can't see all of our brass losing their jobs 2 months ahead of the draft. That would be ridiculous. The Tampa example is poor, 3 years of losing, a couple of different owners & some bad contracts. Sounds like the our team but it is comparing apples & oranges.

    • Exactly. And I agree with dragon too, internal investigation required. This smells like Bob Clark and the Flyers fiasco that led to key players getting injured all too often for them all for the sake of "toughness". The culture of the club was destroyed over the course of a few seasons. This starts at the top.

    • Dan the Man

      Praised his teammates, fans and the city. Would he chop up Edmonton (basically his hometown), the fans and his teammates in PUBLIC and expect to be welcomed anywhere else as anything but possible locker room trouble? Not so sure…. (not saying has does indeed have problems with those 3 entities)

    • I rip the managment all the time. I just think that this is 44 trying to deflect from his real desire (ie to get out of here and onto a better team) by making the focus an already tarnished management group.

      He makes himself the good guy ("I love the fans") and management into an even worse guy ("they make us play hurt").

      Does anyone think there isn't an insurance policy on Horc's contract and that if they could have sat him because he was that injured they wouldn't have jumped at the chance?

      Sexy is dead.

  • Ender

    Big name players demand trades fairly regularly. They do it because they know that it works. Souray isn't a rookie here. He knew what he was saying when he went on record; his agent knew it too. Souray was doing his best to get moved to another squad, and he needed to spin it somehow so that he didn’t come off as a spoiled brat. He picked the most obvious scapegoat that there was. Everyone is already less than sympathetic to Tambellini so it would seem to be a smart move to blame things on the guy people are already bitter at. People believe what they want to believe.

    I'm not saying Tambellini shouldn't be fired. He should, and the reasons are plenty. I just wouldn't make too much out of Souray's allegations. They're pretty weak and Souray had his own agenda for saying what he did. If Oilers fans are going to take shots at management, they have much better ammunition than this.

    • BarryS

      Seems to me the tradition in hockey is playing while hurt. Even Hemsky plays hurt so what's his problem? Liked Souray when he was here, don't matter when he's gone.

      By the by, by definition free agents are problem children, their former team couldn't or wouldn't pay to keep them, and if the leaving came by the players will, then that tells you something too. Souray is a two time looser, team wise, soon to be three time.

      He just another premadonna spoiled rich guy dabbling in sports.

  • I'm a Scientist!

    I just hope the whistle blowing actually leads to some action.

    The time for Katz to act is now while the spotlight is on the problem. Show that he deals with issues and makes it better. Fire Tambo, fire Kevin Lowe, trade Souray…move on.

    ~I bet a Sutter or two might be looking for work in Alberta soon~

    • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

      Not sure that us doing that really makes the situation better. Is it really better to know that if you are a star on this team you have the power to get anyone fired?

      • Twiggs

        Not sure if I would take it that far. People have been talking about a management change for a while while now. The Souray comments may just be the final nail in the coffin (although I highly doubt that). It may turn out that his comments are seen to influence the outcome but I doubt that anyone will take it as a star on the Oilers has the power to get management fired. IMO

        • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

          Who has been talking about management change? The odd oiler blogger and the fans? I really can't see Katz being ready to fire Tambo until at the end of next year at the earliest.

          • Twiggs

            I totally agree, I think it will be a while until we see a management change. And the only rumblings of management chance have come from the odd blogger and disgruntled fans. I've seen it posted by citizens of the ON a number of times. I don't think management will be replaced but I was just saying that if they were, the perception wouldn't necessarily be that a star had the power to cause that change.

      • I'm a Scientist!

        True, but if the accusations about making players play injured and not communicating with the team are true…then i think that is grounds for a firin'…

        The accusations about players playing injured HAS to be true… look at Horcoff this year, look at Gagner at the end of the season, look at Hemsky before he got hurt. How did ANY of that help us? Souray made it public and now things have to be done.

        Extreme Example of the Day: Let's say you work for an organization and your boss murders somebody. You work for awhile but then it eats away at you enough that you just have to tell somebody. So you make it public and your boss promptly gets fired. YOU did not get the guy fired, his actions got him fired.

        • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

          The thing is that he was talking to the trainer everyday. Granted Tambo not talking to Souray is odd, but it's not like he was kicked to the curb.

          As for Horcoff, Gagner and Hemsky I blame management not for making them play but for letting them play. In Horcoff and Hemsky's situation fine let them play because you can't do anymore damage, but Gagner shouldn't have played at the point in the year when the games meant nothing.

          • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

            would it be possible as Fans of the Oilers we collect a bunch of real life signatures on a petition and ask Katz for an independent internal investigation into this?

            do you think we'd get any reaction?

            hell: we sent ON to the draft last year!

            we could pull something like this off: show the muscle of the ON!!!

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            as far as: – 2) No – goes:

            no owner is God. with ownership comes responsibility both towards your clients and your employees.

            and there are several ways and channels that could get ownership's attention quite quickly.

            for the record: i'm not siding with Souray, but the accusations are serious enough that cannot be simply ignored.

          • BarryS

            All this team needs is a GM who is meddling in the day to day affairs of the team, that's the coaches job. In real life, you seldom ever see the real boss, and even less get to talk to him. Talk about entitlement.

            Beside's I thought players had agents so they didn't have to deal with the GM personally?

    • BarryS

      Like how everybody comes to the defence of a millionaire player who has hurt feelings. What's Souray got to worry about, he's getting paid 5 mill a year for the next two years, play or not. Boo hoo.

      So tell me, in what business have you ever been in where the management gets fired because some employee is unhappy? From the owners point of view the management is doing quite well, thank you, the seats are full, the team junk flys out of their store. People constantly talk about the product so the advertizing budget can be trimmed. And better new employees are on the horizon, to keep the seats full, and the junk flying off the shelves.

      So tell me how they failed?

      • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

        From the owners point of view the management is doing quite well,


        management has taken a borderline playoff team and ridden it to multiple years of no playoffs, and drove it to a 30th place finish this year.

        pretty tough for katz to stand there and talk $$$$$ for a huge new arena when the on ice product is sh*t dont you think?

      • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

        30th in the league

        horrendous play

        highest number of surgeries required in a season

        no roster improvement all summer long

        according to some sources 'toxic locker room'

        ???? shouldn't the results be enough to fire management ????

        look no further then Tampa. And wait and see for flames as well…

        ??? where the @#$# did all the talk about 'being a contender' go ????

        do you honestly believe this management team is able to take the Oilers back to game 7?

        *** they should have given Rollie a contract for that playoff run alone (as oppose to Horc) ****

      • You're kidding right? Lots of people in management get in serious trouble when they are purposefully endangering and harassing their employees. There are safety codes and unions for a reason, it's to protect employees from being abused in cases like this.

        I get the anger towards people who make lots of money in some respects, but youre talking about people's health and safety.

        • BarryS

          The tradition in hockey is to play hurt. That's in the job discription. If Souray didn't want to play hurt, all he had to do was say something, of course the rest of the players in the league would laugh him right out of it.

          Lets see, Bob Bonn played with a broken leg, Hemsky and Horcoff played with seperated shoulders, Lowe played with broken ribs, no doubt come playoffs we will hear of several players playing with similar injuries and for free.

          Talking about hypcracy, the fans call out players who don't play unless they see the cast. No cast and they write in about someone being soft and faking injury when the going gets tough.

          If health and safety was the issue, there'd be no hitting, or fighting in the game and they would use sponge pucks and rubber sticks.

          • Now you're just being an idiot. Are you f*cking serious? You just listed 2 of 3 players who played injured and had their seasons this year ended prematurely for their troubles. The other, Horcoff, became a useless shell of a player for half the season with his shoulder troubles. We arent talking about bruises and sprains, you listed 3 players that required surgery in the last 3 years. Pull your head out of your a$$.

            We arent talking about the playoffs. We're talking about a team that was eliminated from the playoffs before Christmas.

          • BarryS

            Guess what, they get paid play or not. If they players didn't want to play injured they could not have played. There is nothing the team can do, even with this weak players union, to force a player to play when he thinks he's to injured. They wanted to play so they did. That's one of the reassons pro players are pro players, they play when others would quit.

            Horcoff didn't want to quit the season, he said so. Hemsky didn't want to quit, and Khabby didn't want to guit until it was totally inpossible to play and they also said so. Even the new Dman who is having surgery on his foot didn't want to quit before the season was over. No doubt Gagner is more injured than he let on but he wouldn't quit until he couldn't play any more, even at the cost of being demoted to the fourth line.

          • You're unbelievable. If you think its ok to pressure people to work in unsafe conditions then there isnt anything to be said between us on this topic. Choosing to play and being told to play hurt are two different things. Pitkanen wasnt comfortable with it here, Souray wasnt comfortable with it here; Hemsky, Souray, Horcoff, Smid, and others have been injured long term because of it, but you're right, nothing's wrong with it.

            They are pro players who play through all kinds of injuries, so imagine what it takes for them not to be comfortable playing.

          • Well said Arch . I have been on both sides of union and management and seen first hand many a time the intimidating tactics ,especially from management side, that overstep their power and impliment programs not agreeable to any employee nor within the contact ( or spirit in which it was signed ) . I've seen many a company manage by grievance while they run roughshod over their employees putting them in harms way . This system of management is far more engrooved in our culture than most realize . Most employees never have the courage , however, to challenge their superiors in management or union , and kiss the ass of them rather than risk a backlash . Management backs on the employees taking the fall rightly and very often wrongly – such is the life and expectancy of a normal worker . Souray did , and i respect him for it .

        • Safety Codes don't tend to apply to professional athletes. If the player has an issue with the team pushing him back he can grieve it through the NHLPA. It isn't like a player on a guaranteed contract has to make a WCB claim.

          • Support Tambellini and Lowe all you want. This team had over 500 man-games lost due to injury and someone from the inside is saying that management is pushing players to play hurt.

            You guys can choose to write it off as prima-donna antics or whatever, but I wonder who the other players will believe.

          • Tell me where I'm supporting Lowe or Tambellini? I've been a huge critic of their actions/inactions for quite some time. I've been saying that one or both of them should be fired for months now.

            I'm not suggesting that the management have done anything close to what they should have or were supposed to on the hockey side of the equation.

            I'm just a bit angered by the Souray love when it is obvious that he is making the management the focal point for his situation even though his own personal examples of them "making" him play hurt were 3 years ago and nary a word was said at the time.

            It is obvious to me that Souray is taking advantage of the fact that the management of this team are public enemy number one to hide the real reason that he wants to jump ship (ie that the team stinks and won't be getting better any time soon).

            I'm sure players from other teams will believe him and thereby set back the already poor impression Edmonton has as a good place to play even further.

            That is exactly the opposite of being a team guy.

          • But how can the Oilers expect anyone to be a "team guy" if this is how the players are treated?

            He might not be being an Oiler-first guy right now, but if he's accurately describing the team policy with regards to injured players then what he's saying IS team first. Blowing the whistle on this crap can only help his (soon to be ex) teammates in the future.

            I dont like that he has publicly demanded a trade, but if you get past that then the claims he's making are serious and have implications about why the culture of the team has died in recent seasons.

          • Still waiting for evidence that I was "supporting" management.

            Look at all the people that have simply accepted what he has said about injuries and playing through injuries. Sure there are guys on the Oil that have played through injuries. There are also guys like that on every team.

            IF what he says is true then I agree that this is unacceptable. Of course I'm pretty sure there is a grievance process to follow to make such a complaint (this would be expected in a collectively bargained labour situation–if someone knows the specific procedure I would love to hear about it).

            All he has done is mouthed off in the media and pointed the finger at some perceived wrongdoings that he suffered at the hands of management three years ago that he didn't complain about until he wanted to force a trade.

            It is working too because everyone is happy to pile this latest allegation on the idiots we have running the show. To suggest that he has some kind of altruistic bent and that he is mentioning this now to "help" the team by protecting other players is pretty ludicrous.

          • "To suggest that he has some kind of altruistic bent and that he is mentioning this now to "help" the team by protecting other players is pretty ludicrous."

            And to suggest he is a complete liar driven only by his prima-donna ego is just as ludicrous.

          • Not sure where I said he was a "complete liar driven only by his prima-donna ego". Please feel free to point it out to me. Concersely your exact words were

            He might not be being an Oiler-first guy right now, but if he's accurately describing the team policy with regards to injured players then what he's saying IS team first. Blowing the whistle on this crap can only help his (soon to be ex) teammates in the future.

            I'm just painting by numbers here.

            A. He wanted out and gave a list of destinations (I think this occurred between Jan and now so it looks like there was at least some communication between his camp and the Oil)

            B. He wasn't traded at the deadline (likely due to his injuires but who knows what the market would have been in any event).

            C. He didn't once say that he had a problem with being pressured to come back early until now. He certainly didn't say or do anything 3 years ago which is the time frame he referenced as his example.

            D. If he isn't talking to management (and this is stated as a problem by him as he apparently is an "asset" that needs to be "managed" how exactly is the management team pressuring him?

            I'm not saying that Lowe and Tambo have done a good job (and I'm feeling like broken record here). If there is a problem evidenced by more than the spouting off about old news by a guy who wants out then for sure it needs to be dealt with and probably will be investigated.

            From my perspective if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck it is probably a duck.

          • I stand by those words. Souray saw a problem and spoke out against it. He's free to do that because he was on his way out.

            I think that if there's truth behind his allegations then by coming out and making it public he's helping his teammates who are probably also being pressured to play hurt.

            You're asking where you said he was a complete liar driven only by his prima-donna ego, but then you go on to list all the reasons you dont think he's being truthful. Come on.

          • Look Arch I agree with a lot you say but I think you are way off simply accepting everything Souray has to say on this point at face value without ever having heard the other side of the equation and not recognizing that there are certainly reasons to suspect his motives given the rather convenient timing.

            "Souray saw a problem and spoke out against it (3 years after the fact when he was trying to force his way out of a losing situation)."*


            We'll have to agree to disagree on this one my friend. Now I know that if I want to receive your wrath I can talk about this, Schremp, or trading Hemmer for picks.

          • Ha ha ha. Fair enough. I would like to hear other players' anonymous responses to these allegations as well as word from Management. I dont think Management will say anything though.

            I'm not convinced this is limited to a single incident 3 years ago. There has to be more to this, IMO. He was on his way out one way or the other, I dont think that he was doing this to force his way out. He was practically out the door already.

          • Chris.

            This is one player, Gagner, Cogs, Hemmer have all stateed they like it here, Hemmer's shoulder was hurt and he played has he came out and said that the managment "made him play" NO. Look at the timming people, Souray's NTC is about to expirer now he knows that he will be moved and he has no control he's pissed off he thinks managment would do him a "favor" and move him to where he wanted to go, now he knows that's not the caes and he feels he's been treated "unfairly" look at me I'm a vet I need specail treatment, if that was the case 3 friggen years ago why not complain back then, why now it smells of sour grapes.

          • I wouldnt hang my hat on Hemmer stating they like it here based on what RB has been saying lately. Souray hasnt been injury free for 3 years. There have been other opportunities for the club to push him and others into doing things they arent comfortable with.

          • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

            That beeing said if Hemmer wants out I bet it's because of the Players he is playing with rather than managment, if they get some snipers start winning and show we are on the upside I think Hemmer will re-sign. This was about the managment and from that side Hemmer has been happy as well as Cogs ans Gagner hell I can name the whole team because the only guy to compain about managment is Souray don't give me Pronger because Tambo wasn't even here then.

          • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

            No have you, so one guy comes out and says all this and you believe ONE GUY if this was the norm don't you think more players would have spoken up by now, look at the timming he's pissed because he didn't get moved to his pick of a team now his ntc is up, in his eyes managment has treated him unfairly. Look at Horc he was asked what 5 times if he should be playing because of his shoulder and he kept saying NO.

          • Ducey

            Come on man, you can't be so stupid as to think this is as simple as Tambellini/ Lowe vs Souray? You can't think that managment is responsible for the injuries can you? Did management break Souray's hand or cause him a concussion? Did they give Comrie mono? Did they cause Bulin's and JFJ's backs to have problems? Did Hemsky's should give out due to Lowe doing something? Did Pouliot get a hernia or whatever it was becuase of Tambi? I could go on but here is the list:

            You let me know when you find some injuries caused by Lowe/ Tambillini.

            There are agents, multiple doctors, training staff, and coaches all involved in the decision to play.

            Players are not going to "believe" anyone. They have all had their own relationships with management that are going to inform them as to whether they have been mistreated or want to be here.

            Whether Souray was pressured to play hurt is irrelevant. That was three seasons ago!! Since then he had a fabulous year and this year he missed games because of a concussion and a broken hand. If it was such a big deal three years ago he should have complained then.

            The reality is that this has a lot more to do with a vet being on a rebuilding last place team than it has with managment. If this team was in first place and managment treated him exactly the same way – do you think he would be demanding a trade?

          • "Whether Souray was pressured to play hurt is irrelevant"

            It didnt seem irrelevant to Souray. This IS Management vs Souray, he's made it clear that is the case.

            If you dont want to believe that pressuring players to play before they're ready causes more injuries that's up to you, I guess.

          • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

            Were they pressured or was it the team asking how he was doing a little too much? I mean I'd really like to know what actually was said, because there is a possibilty that the Oilers were just asking him too often and Souary took it the wrong way.

      • RCN

        I doubt you have ever been in a union setting by your comments . Several times i have witnessed many management get chastized , disaplined and fired over an unhappy and grieving employees grievances against management for more reasons than you could possibly imagine . I've seen it several times as well outside a union setting as well over the years . I praise and respect Souray for airing our dirty laundry , now maybe we might see some light and real optimism evolve !Souray has handled it very well , and it's too bad Pronger didn't air it when he wanted out . I think some of you are missing things by expecting Katz to do something about it . He might have been spared Sourays outburst , but is he not part of accountability to team and fans as well ? I go back to an earlier blog i wrote about questioning the entire organization including owner about the possibilty of them throwing this entire season down the toilet on purpose . Considering nothing seems apparantly been done to remove anyone from coaching or management , maybe my so called stupid and wild idea has a lot more validity than one cares to admit .

        • BarryS

          Actually I have and the union management was just as bad as the employers, only they couldn't get fired. Wearing expensive suits to the meetings, costing the members more money than they'll ever get back and then caving in for a buck an hour instead of dealing with the real issues. And the only employees they stand up for are serious union supporters. Unions are just another level of management between the employee and the paycheck.

          Been there, done that, got the scars to prove it.

          Good to see you're a good union man, hope your union enqable you to make 5 mill a year playing kids games.

          Souray is just another whiner in a long line of whiners trying to justify hurt feelings while also trying to insure the fans won't boo him when he comes back in another jersey. As others have said, he's part of the problem with this team, not part of the solution.