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.

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.



  • We officially have no good captaincy prospects on the team. Sigh. "Jaromir? JAROMIR!?"
    (And no, Tencer, it shouldn't be Whitney.)

    But you know what? I will defend Souray to the end on this one. I'm not a defender of his uninjured play this season… he was a bum out there more often than not. Sure, it's more damaging than not to go public with this… it almost certainly lowers the return, and he almost certainly knows that. A bit of a cheap move, sure. But we must ask: Why?

    This is a poorly managed team. Anyone can see that. The amount of overall bad decisions made by this team's office is embarrassing. You have to think that Souray knows that Eberle is coming, that Hall is coming, that the future is brighter than ever before… and he still wants to leave.

    This speaks volumes… about something that a lot of us already knew.

    But the big issue is THIS:

    I don't think he's whining about not getting a text during his injury free-time. It's about them pressuring him to play as he's been close to healthy more than once… to think that a pushy Tambellini could be partly responsible for the injury-prone tenure of Souray is very discouraging going forward.

    Then again, does Tambellini man up and just sit him, like they maybe should have with Pronger? Instead of being strongarmed?

  • I'm a Scientist!

    Souray is one of the most respected players in the league – if he says there is a problem with management I tend to believe him. Some other facts, like players being seemingly cleared to play early (eg. Staios playing after missing one game from a concussion only to make matters worse) seem to support Souray's claims. The question is whether Katz is listening with an open mind and whether or not he has the guts to clean house if he finds that Souray is telling the truth.

    • BarryS

      Don't recall any former team mates in Montreal or New Jersey crying to the media when he was let go. Don't recall their media writing stories about how bad it was either.

      Also notice he is not the player rep with the union, so much for this respect he has.

    • BarryS

      That's because you look at it as a fan.

      As a business, they're doing quite good, actually. The players make good wages, mostly for easy work, seeing as how few go into the corners or in front of the net, either one. The team makes money selling nothing, like say selling bread or cars. As for it being bad entertainment, how many bad movies make gazillions of bucks and folks go to sequal after sequal.

      Beside, if they ever do good, this site and the sports stations will die the slow death if they only can report wins and happy players.

      • I'm a Scientist!

        Since when does the President of HOCKEY Operations care if somebody buys an Oilers dog leash? The product that Lowe and Tambo care about is the product on the ice… not the junk on the shelves.

        Correct me if i am wrong, but haven't the last few home games NOT been sold out? Haven't people been complaining that the games are boring to watch?

        Management = MASSIVE FAIL.

        • Empty seats here still count as sold seats. Something like 15k season ticket holders & the balance being single game seats.

          2 hits to Katz today new rules coming in on generic prescription drugs in Ontario & the Souray story.

        • BarryS

          All them dog leashes is where the profit is. The product on the ice is just so the fans will buy the logo junk, i.e. pay a couple hundred bucks for a jersy for the opportunity to give free advertizing to the team. When I can buy new team jersey's at value village for five bucks, then the team is in trouble.

          As for complaining, haven't heard any rumours tickets are not being renewed in unacceptable numbers. Only hear people who don't buy tickets complain. I complained to when I couldn't afford tickets anymore after 20+ years, and used the same excuses people use here when they say they're giving up their tickets.

  • And here's a comment on the shoulder. From February 2008:

    "Having previous injuries didn't really have anything to do with it, but the re-hab lenth, I think, did," Souray said. "Coming back to play probably a little bit sooner than I should have, injuring it again — a different injury but still the same shoulder … Without getting too specific there are probably three or four things that were wrong in there."

  • BarryS

    @Jonathan Willis

    I've heard time and time again that Souray's injury problems in his first year with the Oilers were due to him coming back too soon from an injury he suffered in Montreal the year before.

  • BarryS

    Good. The more upset vets wanting out the better. It's pretty obvious that the vets control the culture in the dressing room and on the ice – everything from where to sit on the plane to who picks up the pucks at practice.

    Out. All of you.

  • Ender

    RossCreek wrote:

    Souray (2yrs @ 5.4) for Eric Brewer (1yr @ 4.25) ??

    Ogden Brother Jr. wrote:

    I can't see the Blues moving their captain for Souray.

    A couple of weeks ago, I wrote that I thought Brewer might be a good candidate for the Oilers captaincy. Original Ogden Brother said something that made me check his plus/minus. I was horrified. Now I'm not so worried that we couldn't get the Blues to give Brewer up as I am worried that the Blues would do this deal in a heartbeat leaving us even worse off. RossCreek, whose side are you on here?!!

    (Oh yeah, I remember now. Cunning, you devil you . . .)

    • RCN

      *teehee*

      Seriously though, I wouldn't be looking to add Eric Brewer to my team (not really a fan), but that suggestion was meant as the type of trade I expect to make. Souray's value was low and just plummeted. Your basically looking for a dance partner that has another bad contract they'd like to dump. If you can trade a problem with 2 years left for a problem with 1 year left, you do it. Especially since the new problem a) wouldn't necessarily be a problem here, and b) would be playing in a 'contract year'. It may not be Eric Brewer, but I suspect the return will resemble that type of deal.

  • Also of interest from the Montreal Gazette:

    Had he wished to remain with the Canadiens, there was very little difference between the $27 million he's receiving for five years with the Oilers and the reported $22 million he was offered on a four-year deal by Bob Gainey. Souray chose to move. Time will tell if he made the right decision.

  • Jmask5

    The Dressing room is nowhere near as bad as people think. Guys like Lubo, Cole, Whitney, Johnson have all said great things about the guys in the room. But when you are losing people want to pinpoint something. I honestly think the dressing room was worse in 2006 during the cup run. But they were winning so no one said anything.

  • @ BarryS:

    There's a correlation between team success and the money a team makes. As a business, they aren't doing so well in a lot of areas – for instance, why do you suppose they broadcast games for free and had a high number of PPV's this year? It was because they couldn't find a buyer for those games.

    Ticket sales are holding steady, for now. That won't continue if they can't fix the on-ice product.

    Like it or not, this team has already started suffering financially from their poor on-ice performance. It's going to continue to impact their bottom line, and possibly their ability to get a free arena from the City of Edmonton too.

  • Its still another all star player demanding a trade, no matter what the underlying issues are. I thought having an owner like Katz was supposed to stop this from happening? I thought that we were trying to make Edmonton a place that is friendly to players and their families.

    I loved that Souray at least indicated that we, the fans, were tollerable, or even fine to be around.

  • Well this is just a fantastic way to start a Monday.

    Let's see:

    1. I hate Mark Spector. He is a self indulgent nerd that has taken great joy in shredding the hopes of Oilers fans since I was L'il Wanye having his heart broken by the likes of Boris Mironov.

    2. Contrary to what Gregor says in what is probably his best article written on this site in a long time, this is another blow for the team. Perception is 99% of the matter with NHL players.

    3. I immediately regret my "BIG SEXY 4 LYFE" plus an Oilers Logo tattooed on my back. We will have to start calling Theo Peckham Big Sexy now.

    At least Souray has the balls to call out the team brass and not slink off into the night thereby calling the City into question again.

    MONDAY=RUINED

    • VMR

      Thanks for the link I missed that discussion while I was on vacation.

      I think there should be a lot of thought going on inside Katz group HQ on who should be running this organization. Souray's blast is another in a long line of reasons why this management team is running out of excuses. I dont think you can fire them (and I mean all of them, Lowe, Prendergast, Tambellini) without having someone to step in and Im worried if they make a rush decision we end up with Bob Stauffer and George Laraque running the team.

      They should start a search now, look at good OHL/AHL/WHL management teams that have been able to consistently build teams. Get in talks and line someone up cause if this management team doesnt show signs that they've learned from their mistakes a move needs to be made.

      • You might be half right. Talking to successful teams in the OHL might be a stretch though. Ask the Hunter Bros in London or Bob Boughner & Warren Rychel of Windsor how to build a team is funny. Those organizations buy (allegedly) their successful players.

  • BarryS

    No big surprise he's demanding a trade out of town, considering he all but said he wanted to be gone before the trade deadline. Hell, judging by the comments he made to end last year it sounded like he wanted to be gone quite a while ago.

    Blasting management on the way out sounds more like he's butthurt that they didn't massage his ego more, but whatever. He was going to get moved this summer regardless.

  • "But you talk about Prongs (Chris Pronger) and guys like that, and it should raise an eyebrow when players who leave town are skipping out with a smile on their face."

    I have half a mind to think that Kevin Lowe needs to go and Tambellini needs to follow. This is the most damning quote I have probably ever read about the Oilers.

    At least we know that the potholes aren't to blame for people signing here.

    • Hemmertime

      Management is giving colder shoulders than our -40 weather. Bazinga.

      That quote made me raise my eyebrows too, because its the #1 thing a player will pick up on hearing about this. Pronger, Souray, Lubo did want out, Peca with the "travel"… everyone wants to leave.

      When a player says this type of thing, and your team is 30th, its time for management to go. Lowe, Tambo should be gone – we fired our entire coaching staff for a better season last year, time to take next step and let go of management. Quinn probably doesn't want the job but I'd offer it, Renney takes over coaching with Quinn still being a sounding board for coaching decisions.

      Hell, at this point – I'd be content hearing Marc Crawford got promoted to GM here if it meant inaction Tambo got the boot.

  • The Real Scuba Steve

    @BarryS

    They are doing quite good on the business side for the Oilers? Gary Bettman said himself Edmonton is the smallest market in the NHL, go walk into a sports store and check out the Oil merchandise, over stocked and dirt cheap.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    Souray's comments sound like a guy that know's he's not in the future plans here anymore. He know's that the Oil would love to move him, he know's that after June 30th he has NO say in where he goes. I see this as a player lashing out on managment because he see's that they will wait till the June 30th deadline passes and trade him anywhere and he's pissed at managment for that. He wanted to PICK where he would go, and now he knows tambo might ship him to Atlanta. All these comments about Managment need to be taken in context, he has an agenda. Struds love it here and he is just as respected as Souray (maybe more) The article RB wrote about Gagner wanting to help the next young guys come here does that sound like a kid kicking to get out of here, or Cogs saying he didn't want to leave THIS ORGANIZATION after the Heatley crap. Face it folks Souray has an axe to grind because his no trade clause kicks out and he see that mamgment is playing hardball and waiting for it to expire so they can have 29 teams to offer him up to rather than his choices.

    • Moop

      You hit the nail on the head.

      This is Souray looking out for number one. While there's probably a kernel of truth to what he's saying, the fact that he is going public with this now is simply to turn up the heat, and try to force Tambellini to move him sooner rather than later (after June 30). I bet Souray figures the Oil want to avoid this blowing up into Pronger-gate, and will be forced to trade him for less than they want from a team on his list.

      I suspect the Oil will let him sit for the next 3 months until they have 29 other teams to talk to.

  • 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.

    There's a lot to this statement.

  • BarryS

    And whose word do we have besides Souray's he was pressured to play hurt? One of the conditions of playing in Edmonton is the fans seem to expect players to play every game, hurt or not and then whine about their play when they don't play well.

    Sourey is a big boy, if he can't stand up to
    management, if he actually would have had to, with a guaranteed contract in hand, then he shouldn't whine about it. Personally I would rather hurt players not play than hurt the team by playing, but there are two parts to a player playing after inury, the medical staff and the player. If the medical staff okays it, it is still up to the player. Now if the medical staff in incompetant, then that's another matter but Souray didn't call them out.

  • Rob...

    Hey Jason, any chance you can get someone from the WCB on your show? Regardless the level of sport, there's always a desire/pressure to play injured to help your team. Throw a paycheque into the mix, like the professional teams do, and it seems a little confusing as to what management should be allowing, nevermind demanding, from their players.

    • You can't be serious. The WCB in Alberta doesn't give people who are hurt any breaks plus I doubt that a NHL player would be happy with the 65K cap on earnings.

      Comparing a guy who loses his hearing or loses a limb working in the real world to a hockey player who is complaining about being rushed back to work is a little out of context. ~I believe the guy who held the WCB hostage for a day was happy with how he was treated?