My wife told me she plans to get a clown to show up at my son Sam’s 4th birthday party next weekend and I immediately envisioned a player from the Calgary Flames showing up at my house in that hideous throwback jersey they just unveiled for the Heritage Classic.
As ugly as those threads are — and with the obligatory Ronald McDonald shot fired at the City of Cows, where they’ll be announcing plans for fright wigs, red-striped socks and floppy skates to complete the look next week — the Flames have nothing on the Edmonton Oilers when it comes to ugly and their stalemate with Sheldon Souray.
Souray, as everybody knows by now, has been profoundly unhappy with his lot in life with the Oilers for a long time, and that’s something he left little doubt about at the end of last season.
Given Souray’s criticism of the team in general, which is absolute gold for reporters but blasphemy to the ears of Kevin Lowe, Steve Tambellini and those who believe no amount of bungling by the Oilers justifies a public airing like Souray delivered, it’s safe to say the relationship is done.
My question — and it’s one that’s been posed by others here — is this: for the good of Souray and the Oilers, and in the name of expediting the process of getting No. 44 gone, does it make sense for both sides to try to patch things up until the phone rings?
Can Souray and the Oilers fake it to move things along?
WHAT SAY YOU?
Jonathan Willis, for one, raised the question not long ago and I had my say in the comments then — I don’t think it’s a great idea to have a player as unhappy as Souray clearly is sitting in a dressing room full of young prospects as the Oilers set out on a rebuild.
That’s my gut reaction, and it’s something that seldom steers me wrong. That said, and given that the Oilers haven’t been able to give Souray away despite trying every which way you can name, does it make any real sense to simply bury him in the minors to keep him away from all those tender ears and impressionable minds?
Does it make sense to send Souray a message and try to teach him a lesson? I don’t think the money the Oilers are paying Souray spends any different if he’s drawing it in the minors amid admiring glances from young ladies in Oklahoma City or "getting it" here in Edmonton, but is there a need for a symbolic slap on the wrist? You tell me.
On the flipside, what’s the real downside of having Souray report to training camp, even if he and the Oilers must hold their noses, with the intention of at least starting the season here? Is there one?
Until the Oilers can unload him, owner Daryl Katz is on the hook for $4.5 million for each of the next two seasons whether Souray plays a minute in Edmonton or not.
And, while it might suck to be staying in AHL hotels and enduring AHL travel instead of going first-class in the NHL, Souray isn’t going to turn his back on that stack of cake and refuse to report.
So, again, is it in the best interests of both parties to patch things up, at least to the point where they can co-exist and tolerate each other until Souray again has enough value to garner a bucket of pucks, anything? Would the Oilers accept a mea culpa from Souray? Should they?
Or, is it better in the long run for Katz to pay the price of a steep AHL ticket and get Souray the hell out and away from the kids during what’s obviously a critical period of transition for the team?
Like a marriage gone bad, there are going to be trade-offs no matter which way the Oilers and Souray go. And, as has been made abundantly clear, this is a union forever broken.
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.