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.

  • Chris.

    I think a lot of people (including Gregor) are missing the point.

    It doesn't matter if Souray has been childish, or difficult, or is a high maintenance type player… Shouldn't it be a mandate for management to create the best possible atmosphere within the entire organization? It's not like the Oilers will never encounter another high maintenance type player…. IMO, The sheer number of player management relationships that have gone sour over the years is quite alarming.

    P.S. If true, it's absolutely ridiculous that a player injured on the ice, could lay on a hospital bed with an IV, for weeks, without recieving any kind of visit or phone call from the boss. Shame on you Tambellini!

      • Chris.

        Hey, everyone, before we continue our frenzy of casting aspersions on management as to whether or not they sent flowers to Souray while he was in hospital or didn't bother texting/phoning/writing him during his myriad injuries, would it not be prudent to wait and hear what the Oilers management response is?

        I mean, they haven't commented yet, but they will. And maybe, just maybe, they'll call BS on a lot of what Souray has claimed.

        Just throwin' it out there.

        It seems like a lot of us are willing to accept Souray's account of things, carte-blanche.

        Not sayin' he's wrong or out-of-line for bringing it up but I'd like to reserve judgement until the other side has had a chance to rebut. Maybe they won't, but maybe they will.

        • Taking this indecent alone, I would tend to have your opinion. But how many times does this (poop) have to happen before we look at the common thread- management. I can no longer accept that the Oilers keep having bad luck in acquiring problem athletes.

          • Again, fair enough. Everyone's welcome to draw whatever conclusions they wish vis-a-vis Souray. That's the fun part about blogs and fan sites.

            As for me, I've decided that I'm not necessarily going to allow Souray's assertions to colour my opinion of Oilers management past and present (remember, the chronology on this covers the tenure of two GMs), at least until I've heard management's side of things.

            That said, I can't help but wonder if Souray realizes how absurd this looks from a distance.

            Think about it: He's complaining that management coerced him into playing through an injury three years ago AND he's chosen do complain at the end of a season in which the Oilers set a team record (I assume) for man-games lost to injury (500-plus). In other words, a ton of guys have sat out this year with various ailments and, presumably, none have felt obligated to come back before they were healthy enough to do.

            And, again, if I was in the media right now, I'd be putting one very blunt question to Souray: Why didn't you file a grievance with the NHLPA if you felt you were being rushed back from an injury? You've had nearly three years to do so. Why not last summer or the summer before that?

          • And, again, if I was in the media right now, I'd be putting one very blunt question to Souray: Why didn't you file a grievance with the NHLPA if you felt you were being rushed back from an injury? You've had nearly three years to do so. Why not last summer or the summer before that?

            X 1000

            If had said/done something at the time then I might buy it.

          • By no means do I absolve Souray of any blame this case. But I am exhausted with spending energy screaming at ex-oilers and defending this organization. One or two of these situations is one thing, but for it to continue to happen time and time again with different players tells me something.

          • OilFan

            Good point. Can't really argue because I'm not anywhere near the Oilers' front office or their dressing rooms.

            But I'm just not sure if I'm prepared to lump in Souray's state of "disgruntlement" (disgruntledness? disgruntitude?) in with Pronger's demands four years ago and Comrie's demands, uh, seven years ago. That's a pretty large span of time between incidents to connect any dots that would incriminate Oiler management, past and present.

            Pronger left because his wife hated Edmonton. I can't even remember why Comrie left, but Comrie pretty much admitted when he came back last fall that his falling out with Lowe was as much his fault's as Lowe's.

            Other than that, there was the Nylander thing, the Heatley mini-fiasco and I think that's about it.

  • Eddie Shore

    Let me see if I have this right..

    Tambellini signed Souray to his ridiculous contract and then forced him to play injured at the very start of said ridiculous contract. ~Ya, ok.

  • The timing stinks, but reading into some of the things that have been written in the past why is this such a surprise? The last article that Brownlee wrote he didn't see Souray as the Captain, so I guess in hindsight if you read into stuff like that it shouldn't surprise anyone.

    As I said earlier, a guy that nobody else in the league wanted at anywhere close to his salary should be a little more thankful for his situation.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    Well Souray sucked in NJ, so him being dealt shouldn't really mean anything then. Souray wasn't re-signed by Montreal because they didn't have the money and elected to keep Markov and Streit for one more year. I'm really not sure why everyone in the media has brought this up.

    Now with that being said, he has brought up a couple interesting points about Tambo not being there for him and the team rushing guys back to soon from injury. Granted Tambo could comeback with an article and say the opposite, so I'll leave this part for now.

    I also don't see why everyone is so suprised about this happening. It was pretty apparent that when Souray pretty much would go to any team at the deadline that he wanted out. At least people can't complain that he didn't speak up like Pronger.

  • The Real Scuba Steve

    I think management gives off negative vibes, they should at least communicate more often with their players even if the team stinks like the Oil, I thought that was one of the Oilers great traditions, being a close family like organization. I guess there must be more going on with the players than we know of.

    • Petr's Jofa

      looks like some 'kids' in this 'Oilers Family' don't like the way 'parents' treat them…

      unfortunately they are over 18yo and can just walk away.

      ~ life is unfair for some parents ~

    • Jason Gregor

      Souray said on my show months ago that he loved the city, but due to his age and such Edmonton wasn't the best hockey place for him.

      I'm not surprised, but like I wrote I don't see what he gains by saying this. Clearly he is quite upset with Tambellini and management.

      I don't think this is an easy trade to make for Tambellini to get fair value in return. I don't see them getting a Ryan Whitney type of talent for him, so we will see.

      They will miss Souray's toughness, but he only played one full season in three years, so it's not like they are losing a vital cog.

  • I agree 100% that 44 needs to look in the mirror and take some responsibility.

    44's comments about how the team handled his injuries seem like he is making up excuses for wanting out. Why is it a big deal today how they handled his shoulder injury from 3 years ago? Is he suggesting that coming back from his concussion early broke his hand?

    He wants out because the team sucks period end of story. This whole focus is to try and shift the blame to a management group that is already publicly vilified.

    EDIT: And yes I refuse to call this clown by his name or his cool moniker any longer.

  • I'm a Scientist!

    this is a simple, classic, management-employee conflict.

    unfortunately, even though it's easier to blame him, the employee doesn't have any responsibility here.

    the team belongs to the management (as reps for the owner) and their approach should be far more proactive, supportive as well as demanding an fair.

    reading between the lines of past and recent turmoils it does not look like Oilers have a professional management team (and the results prove that).

    the part that saddens me the most is that this mediocre management team will be in charge of developing brilliant 18, 19 yo kids coming into this league.

    opportunity wasted? quite probable…

  • Who dat

    See, when you hear the news in Tampa where when they have missed the playoffs for the 3rd season in the row and they immediately fire their GM and coach…

    Why can't we do something like that? (Not that I want Pat Quinn gone, but the old staff have got to go).

  • Petr's Jofa

    I think what Souray did could work out great. If all the things about pushing players to play is true, he needed to speakout for himself and the other players.

    This may be a foot in the right direction for Edmonton to restore it's reputation. Now rather than trying to change the city's image, the climate, or the team's on ice record, all the OIlers need to improve Edmonton's image is fire a GM and President team who ice a dead last team.

    Perception is huge. The Oilers need to spin it so that players start to believe that managment was the the reason no FAs want to sign there. Then when Katz fires managment, the perception problems are solved. Especially if the prospects and young talent start to improve…Right?

  • Petr's Jofa

    I agree.

    Before he made this statement Souray could see the writing on the wall and that there is a high likelihood that he is going to get traded. So what's his motive for speaking up about managment. Is it:

    A) He's sticking up for the for the teammates he is leaving behind in hopes that hey aren't force to play when they shouldn't be.

    B) He as a personal Axe to grind with Lowe and Tambellini

    C) He made the statements because he was possessed by Jersey #44 and robbed of his free will?

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    Hmmmm….lets consider this for a minute. While Souray might be/is right about some of his assessments about management. I would think the conversation, or lack of it went like this.

    Souray to media;
    I would like a trade to help the team.

    Whatever, nice way to say you would like to leave. Nobody wants you and we are not sure we like you anymore. But we might have some bites on the market.

    I really want a trade so to prove this I am going to break my hand in a stupid fight I could get into next year or the year after.

    Well there goes your trade request, you want to leave, and don't hang out with the team at all anymore. What is there to talk about?

    Wow, I am stil really sexy, look at my hair.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    So I wonder if those rumors of him wanting out last summer are true? I mean is it not possible he went the quiet route and got nowhere, so now he is letting it be known he wants out?

  • OilFan

    I thought he already asked for a trade before the trade`deadline. Anyway who cares? lets send him to the minors. Make him play in the AHL the next two seasons and then when he is almost 40 he can hit free agency.

    • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

      That's like buying a Porsche to tow your trailer. You're paying a hell of a lot of money for no apparent reason, and you end up with no resale value by the time you're ready to buy a new one.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    Great blog Gregor, I agree 100%. Souray needs to shoulder some blame as well.

    Question for you, do you know how often managment is in contact with players on other teams?

    • Jason Gregor

      They can't contact players who are under contract on other teams. That would be tampering.

      Now, would they talk with an agent here and there, you betcha. I'm sure players have spoken to others teams while under contract, but no one would openly admit to it for fear of tampering.

      • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

        I think the question is how often does Calgary talk to its injuried players not how often does Edmonton talk to Calgary's players. I could be wrong though.

      • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

        Sorry Gregor, I worded that poorly. I actually meant:

        How often is managment on other teams in contact with their own players.

        ie is what Souray is complaining about (not hearing from managment) common around the league or is this something fairly unique to the Oilers?

        • Jason Gregor

          Hard to get a straight answer for that, but I will say it this way. Any management team should know which guys will want to be contacted often and which guys could care less. Every player will need to be massaged differently and it is up to the GM to find out what makes them tick. Communication is key in any business of walk of life, and Tambellini should have known that Souray needed some extra TLC.

  • Dan the Man

    Souray didn't have to do it this way, he didn't have to whine about something that happened 3 almost years ago.

    If he felt pressured to play before he was ready I understand the frustration with that. I'm pretty sure management didn't pressure him into that fight with Byron Ritchie that led to his shoulder separation though.

    I'm also pretty sure management didn't pressure him into breaking his hand in the Iginla fight.

  • @ Travis Dakin:

    Could he have brought fire down on an organization he professed that he still wanted to be a part of?

    I may be wrong, but the way I'm taking this right now is that Souray doesn't expect his comments on management to get them fired. Again, speculation but I imagine Souray expects to be dealt and wants it clear that it wasn't the city, fans or his teammates that made him leave town.

  • I would suggest there is some mutual fault here. As Willis points out, it's difficult to defend a management team that has brought the organization to its lowest historical point.

    At the same time, Souray hardly covered his contract with his performance and his presence surely contributed to the vaguely described locker room situation. It was evident just from watching that Souray wasn't exactly giving his best effort this year.

    Frankly, his admission changes nothing. They were going to try to move him anyways, the return was going to be minimal, and this isn't an ideal landing point for players. Nothing Souray said changes any of that.

    • Dan the Man

      I believe that Souray has wanted out since last summer as Brownlee has suggested and management isn't blameless here but in fairness it's tough to trade a guy who's missed more than half the season with injury.

    • Deep Oil

      My Villeneuve sources floated this in that past that Big Sexy was not happy in Edmonton,
      and wanted out…. last March.

      I believe my sources in Villeneuve were the closest bloodline you could get, and the criticism was over the top.

      Trading an overpaid hockey player is the least of the concerns this owner has this month….

      With Katz losing over $100 million in Ontario Generic Pharmaceutical profits, and the Oilers sucking the hind tit in the financial department, I am curious which new york banker is going to give Katz $100 million for his freebie arena that will depreciate the day it opens, while his $100 million development investment appreciates. Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal rinks were built with private money, no handouts.
      Article on Rexall losing $100 million in price gouging profits in Ontario

      Andy Giancamilli, chief executive officer of the Katz Group, which operates Rexall and Pharma Plus, said the government’s move verges on “reckless action in health care” and could force his company to slash $100-million in costs.

      • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

        Still throwing out speculation to further your agenda eh.

        Got any proof the team is "sucking the hind tit in the financial department"?

        • Deep Oil

          Actually, LaForge placed a story in the Edmonton Journal and had a live blog stating
          the Oilers lost money last year.

          This is some dialogue from

          3. You recently claimed the Edmonton Oilers ''lost quite a bit of money'' in the past year, in addition to implying the Oilers could relocate without the help of a new arena. If a top 10 revenue generating team is having difficulty making money, are you unintentionally implying 20 other teams in the league are in financial difficulty?

          Wow, that’s a loaded question. It’s become pretty clear from what’s happened in Pittsburgh, Quebec City and elsewhere that the viability of an NHL franchise is directly tied to the adequacy of its arena facility. That said, we are totally focused on putting the Oilers at the heart of our city and the revitalization of our downtown.

          Enough said.

  • And none of this is to say that Souray's blameless. But given management's track record, and the sheer number of Oilers players we've seen rushed into the lineup after injury over the years, I think this deserves a more thorough look than "Sheldon Souray is a malcontent."

  • Jmask5

    I think Spector is trying to make a big deal out of nothing. Like he just got the biggest scoop of the year. This is not Chris Pronger Part deux. We actually wanted to keep Pronger. At this point I'd care more if Liam Reddox asked for a trade. I mean really who cares about this guy. He sucks and is overpaid. I'm sure management would high five each other the second they trade him.

  • Slapshot

    The real question is Souray the only player that feels this way? I would bet that there are a few others on this team, that do not want to be here any longer either,lets hope that the players that do want to play here stay and the ones that do not get sent packing.