SHELDON SOURAY: HE JUST DOESN’T GET IT

Sheldon Souray obviously isn’t of the mind to just shut up and play (or sit out with a broken hand), and that’s his right, even if there are times when speaking his mind isn’t very smart.

Souray, who talked his way out of the NHL with the Edmonton Oilers by calling out team management at the end of last season because he was frustrated his trade demands hadn’t been met, has taken to flapping his gums again, this time to Tim Leone of the Patriot-News.

After busting his right hand — the same fragile paw that broke in an ill-advised fight with Jarome Iginla last season and ended any hope the Oilers could trade him — on the jar of minor league ruffian Matt Clackson of Adirondack a week ago, Souray got to talking again.

Having bitched himself out of training camp with the Oilers and on loan to the Hershey Bears, Souray couldn’t help himself when asked how he felt about criticism back in Edmonton that he’d tested his glass mitt against Clackson, sustaining an injury that won’t help move him along.

His days as an Oiler obviously done, but with those big pay cheques from Daryl Katz still coming, Souray didn’t hold back. What a surprise.

WHAT HE SAID

Here’s an excerpt, with quotes, from Leone’s piece in the Patriot News.

"I’m used to the criticism,” Souray said. "You can’t please everyone once people get an opinion. I think Edmonton’s done a pretty good job, the organization’s done a good job, of trying to form an opinion of my character and my personality.

"Once people jump on that and make an assumption for themselves, it’s hard to do anything right. We’ve seen it before. Not just my situation. Players, they get a certain reputation and no matter what they do it just doesn’t seem like it’s enough."

Souray, who sustained compression fractures in the hand and should be out just weeks rather than months, kept it coming.

"Seven or eight months ago, when they were thinking I was one of the most important parts of the (Edmonton) team, to three or four months ago, after I had called the organization out on a couple of things, it’s led me to here," Souray said. "You’re exactly right. It’s one of those situations where, I think, now you’ve just got to go kill them with success.

"If you come down here and you act like you’re not committed or you act like you shouldn’t be here, that’s going to show on the ice. That’s one thing I wanted to come here and make sure these guys knew is that I’m in it with them. We’re all in the same boat. We’re all here to try to make the NHL. I didn’t want anything less to show on the ice."

So, Edmonton’s done a good job of smearing Souray’s good name and his impeccable character? I thought Souray accomplished that largely on his own when frustration got the better of him last spring.

And, "Kill them with success?" Like the Oilers wouldn’t like to see Souray healthy and productive in Hershey so they could get more than a box of tape, anything, for him in a trade and turn this page? Yes, what a killer that turn of events would be.

NO SALE

Apparently, Souray is so bitter over the predicament he helped orchestrate that he can’t help but make a bad situation worse by coming off as a self-serving whiner.

Not that it matters where the Oilers or GM Steve Tambellini are concerned because he’s napalmed that bridge into smouldering ashes, but he’s doing nothing but diminishing his already marginal trade value with his me-first narrative.

Souray, even at age 34 and broken down as he is on the downside of his career, is still an effective player when healthy. Big shot. Tough as hell. Physical. He’s a player who eventually might be the right fit for the right team, even with his bloated contract.

But, like his dubious claim to reporters in Edmonton about wanting to come to training camp — days after Souray and his agent had been told he would not be welcome — this latest rendition of Poor, Pitiful Me isn’t going to cause GMs who might be contemplating taking a chance on him to lean his way. More bitterness won’t get him out from under the thumb of an organization he clearly has no respect for.

He just doesn’t get it.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

  • Crackenbury

    All due respect to Souray, but he’d still be an Oiler if he played anywhere close to his 2008-09 level after he came back from his concussion last season.

    If he could still be one of the team’s best players, it’s hard to imagine he’d be in the minors.

    But after that Iginla trip and his time off, he came to leak goals against and he barely got off his slapper. His timing was way off.

    Looked to me like he was finished as a player, not surprising given his age, injury history and hard style of play. So he had to go to Hershey to prove to other teams he is capable of playing at an NHL level.

    Good luck to him. The odds are against him, especially with that contract, which other teams will hold against him.

  • Hemmercules

    I’m kind of surprised that it took this long for these comments to appear here, but all good points, Robin. I was wondering, did anyone ever investigate his claim that he was forced to play injured?

    • Souray’s main complaint was he felt he was rushed back from off-season shoulder surgery when he first came here. From an earlier item:

      “Souray arrived in Edmonton in the summer of 2007 and then signed a five-year, $27 million contract. He suited up for just 26 games in his first season with the Oilers due to injuries. Souray said he felt he was rushed into playing games after joining the Oilers. At the time, he was rehabilitating from a shoulder injury suffered during his playing days in Montreal.

      “What should have been an ideal situation turned out to be something else,” Souray said. “It would have been easy to sit and leave and start throwing darts at people. I certainly wasn’t going to do it during the season when the team was playing and become that distraction then. I was going through something and I feel a certain way and need to get that off my chest.”

      “Sheldon’s comments are unfortunate and counterproductive, but we are going to manage through this in a responsible and professional manner,” Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini said in a statement Tuesday. “We understand Sheldon has had a tough year and he has a desire to play elsewhere. His additional comments regarding being ‘forced to play’ when injured are far more serious and my stance is that they are demonstrably untrue.”

      All the questions have been asked an answered and, not surprisingly, Souray and the Oilers disagree.

      Was Ryan Smyth “ready” when he came back with screws holding his busted ankle together so he could play in the Olympics? I still remember blood leaking from his surgery incisions when he began rehab.
      Ryan Whitney wasn’t 100 per cent over his foot surgery when this season began, but he hasn’t missed a game.
      I’d argue a lot of players come back from injuries when they aren’t completely healed or recovered but are deemed healthy enough to play.
      It’s a matter of perspective and Souray’s perspective after things went sour (he didn’t say anything at the start of his first season here) is he was rushed back from surgery.

      • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

        Do you journalists keep archives of all your stories?

        I thought that the Oilers were holding him out of the first week or so of camp due to a ‘back injury’.

        I was wondering if you had notes from back then that would confirm if I remember correctly or if my memory is shot.

        Obviously players come back from injuries on different time lines as you have also pointed out but it has left me wondering why the Oilers public position at the time was the shoulder was fine but he tweaked his back and if if in hindsight it was all a ruse to protect the appearance that Souray wasn’t damaged goods to the extent that he proved to be.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    The worse thing that happened was that he got injuried, now he has time on his hands to talk to the media more then usual. I was hoping he’d just go to the minors and the story would be dead until the draft, but no this guy somehow finds a way to make noise.

  • Hemmercules

    I don’t think what he said was that bad but he really should just quit talking to the media all together. Does he honestly think that continuing to talk about the Oilers and Edmonton is going to help his future situation??

    Also, the words trade and Souray should stop being used in the same sentence. Why would a team trade for him when they have a shot at grabbing him at half price on re-entry?? Why would a team want him in the first place is a better question??? He was great 2 years ago but now he’s just an injury prone whiner making too much money. Teams just arent taking gambles on players like that like they used to.

  • Zamboni Driver

    Here’s a question….

    Does anyone in the “braintrust” actually do research on a person’s character?

    Sure, it was back in the “Kevin Milbury” days of GM-ing, but good lord….

    Souray is a self-serving loser.
    Penner is a one-trick (barely) pudgy-pony that would rather be playing guitar at Haigt-Ashbury…

    Instead they got drunk with an inflated chequebook and went nuts.

    And here we sit – time to do a little of the blame game at the incompetents that brought these guys in.

  • Dan the Man

    I’m not a hater Brownlee, I swear I’m not, but I think you’re giving Sheldon a rough ride here.
    Where did he attack the oilers organization? (This time, I mean.0) All he said is people in Edmonton are looking at him a certain way, and he’s right. We are only looking at him in terms of what’s best for us, and when he doesn’t do that we get mad.
    He was trying to show his teammates that he wasn’t above them, that he was in the same trenches they were, and we wasn’t going to tip-toe around the ice to avoid hurting himself- he was gonna play hockey. A willingness to hurt yourself to help the team is strength. There’s no sense complaining that the team Sheldon’s choosing to try and help right now is the Hershey Bears, not the Edmonton Oilers.

  • Ender

    Back in April, I wrote:

    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 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.

    Nothing has changed my mind since then. Souray wanted out and had for a long time. His no-trade clause was about to expire. He wanted one last shot at getting moved to a team he chose, and he took what he felt was an acceptable risk and tried to force Tambellini’s hand. It was stupid and it backfired all over him and the Oilers. Souray is where he is now because he gambled and lost.

    All that said, I’m with Arch here that I wouldn’t put the comments above in the same catagory as his previous rant. Props to Brownlee for printing them; I do think they’re relevant and I enjoyed reviewing them. I doubt I would have read Tim Leone in the Patriot-News on my own. Still, I was angry at Souray before because he twisted the truth to suit his own purposes. What he said now? He’s very angry that his career has tubed; I think what he said could have been far, far worse. He knows that the chances of him playing in the NHL again are at this point a long shot, and for a guy that’s fallen as far as he has, well, I guess I can see why he’s bitter. The tone in his comments is definitely jaded, but I think he tried to keep the actual words pretty neutral. The only way I think he could have answered Leone’s questions any better would have been to say ‘No comment’.

    For those who are still holding on to the fantasy of re-entry waivers, you need to let go and face the reality. That isn’t going to happen. The only reason to do that is to try and save actual money by trading half his real salary for half of the cap-hit instead. In the first place, Edmonton would rather have the cap-room than the money in 11-12. In the second place, Souray is where he is now because he pissed off a multi-billionaire. Do you think a potential savings of $2.25M is a giant obstacle to Katz at this point in this little object lesson? There will be no re-entry for Souray. Ever.

    And despite the speculation to the contrary, I still don’t think he’ll be under contract to the Oilers next fall. Playing one season in Hershey might not leave his career flatlined on the table, but playing two would. Shedding the final year of his contract would certainly lead to a lot less money in 11-12, but the lesser contract he signs might be with an actual NHL club, and that would be his only ticket back to the Show. If he keeps the Oilers $4.5M in the final year of his contract, that will be the last money he ever sees from the NHL. I don’t Shelly is ready to accept that his days as a major-leaguer are behind him.

  • smiliegirl15

    Although he is right about people jumping to conclusions regarding this whole debacle, I think we’ve heard enough of both sides of the story to form opinions.

    I don’t hold a high regard for the Edmonton “braintrust”. I think they’ve muddled their way through a lot of the past two to three seasons. I don’t think Souray was too far off base with some of his accusations regardless of Tambellini’s denial. Why else would the whole inside support team get such a shake up?

    Souray certainly has a poor me, I’ve been branded the bad guy here theme to his comments. He’s made his own bed and doesn’t find it so comfortable. It looks like he’s trying to do some damage control with the folks outside the Oilers fanbase.

    @ Ender

    Why wouldn’t both sides try to spin things to their advantage? Tambellini and Souray both would be fools not to. Neither side has come out of this looking very smart.

    • Ender

      I don’t know that Tambellini tried to impart any great amount of ‘spin’. His counter to Shelly’s comments was simply that they were “demonstrably untrue.”

      Have some members of the Oilers come back from injury before they should? Heck, sure they have. They’re professional athletes who live in fear every day that their stats are going to fall off and that their playing time is going to be taken away and awarded to some new hot-shot rookie who seems to be able to skate 80 laps without breathing hard. Sitting on the bench and watching someone else get opportunities with ‘their’ minutes has got to be incredibly hard. I don’t think that stops at the Oilers line-up or even at the doors of every NHL club; it’s a common theme in every pro-sport. For Souray to trot it out as some great hideous evil that the Oilers have perpetrated on their players is just ridiculous. Has there ever been a player who wasn’t sure they should be back that the Oilers hinted it would be good for them to resume skating? Maybe. Has there ever been a player who the Oilers trainers weren’t sure should be back but where the player insisted they were fine and played through whatever pain they had? Dozens, at least. Souray’s allegations had two things about them that caught my attention; extremely convenient timing, and a dash of just enough truth to make them convincing despite the issue being one that pro sports has dealt with for a hundred years.

      • For me the argument ends with “character”. Horc played hurt all last year, he says no Im 100% even though he could have bailed and used the shoulder as an excuse. He did not and would not thus suffering the usual garbage that comes with under performance, big contract, grinder style game etc.
        Souray who sucked equally as bad (or worse) in any of his recently recovering from injury stints had his own way of deflecting the criticism away from himself.

        So one guy manned up and the other ran his mouth.. one is our 13th captain and one is whining in the minors.
        And incredibly and perhaps obviously it was not long ago that it could easily have gone the other way, these are the crosses we all bare when making decisions.
        Reputations are built over time and destroyed in seconds.

        Souray could have made amends when the iron was still hot but he chose not too probably thinking that his own view of himself was shared league wide.

        *news flash*

        NOT!

      • smiliegirl15

        I’m not saying either side is right or wrong here. I’m saying they’re both to blame, both made mistakes but it was Souray who had the most to lose. Do I agree with what he did? No. Do I think Tambellini should have tried to play nice at the beginning of the season to get some value out of who is probably our best defenseman on a team needing to shore up the D? Yes.

        Right now I think Souray needs to shut up, heal his hand and play hockey to the best of his ability. Only maybe then will another team even consider bringing them onto their lineup.

  • Souray is who he is. Most of us in Edmonton and Montreal know this. What’s the point of rehashing more negative Souray chatter? I’d choose to move on. Seems like there is a lot of news available on the current Oilers.

  • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

    I am coming into this post kind of late but my 2 cents is like this. Souray new what he was doing when he signed the contract, does anyone remember Pronger? This is the same situation, he signed big money then asked for a trade after the first year (and a bit). When that didn’t happen quickly, he started to open his big yap. He is shallow and full of himself and everyone else in the industry sees it for what it is. I am glad he is not in our dressing room today even though we could use his talents but the cost is too high. It is too bad the Oilers have to continue to pay him.

    Fade away into AHL obscurity Sheldon, you moron.

    • Ender

      When TSN didn’t even care enough about the demotion from a Canadian team to print a story, the only thing surprising here is that some people thought there was a chance he’d be claimed.

        • Ender

          That’s true enough. $0.5M for a guy who can back up for an injury over a month or two is a reasonable expenditure. If JDD hits re-entry, he could be claimed.

          Which is why if the Oilers need to call up a goalie, it won’t be JDD. It will be Gerber.

      • Bucknuck

        Meanwhile, on Sportsnet, the Leafs have considered switching up the line combinations, so there is a front-page article, and commentary blogs from Sportsnet staff. Tonight: Kypreos and McLean will have a three hour special on this exciting development!

  • Bucknuck

    Ender:

    I think you’re mistaken when you say that Souray won’t be under contract to the Oilers next fall. There are no provisions in the CBA for teams to mutually agree to walk away from bad contracts. If he chooses not to report, he doesn’t get paid, but the Oilers keep that year of his contract (like Hudler bailing for the KHL).

    • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

      there technically is.

      souray gets assigned to the AHL and refuses to report, his contract can essentially be voided..

      if i find the time and motivation, i will find the article in the CBA

  • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

    Things got out of hand when Oilers lollygagged on trading him when his value was high , and everything was out of public eye . Like it or not his contract allowed him to break it if he so choose to . How many years was he to stay before the Oilers finally let him out ? Souray self serving like anyone else would be in most/similiar circumstances . Oilers ultimately allowed the situation to get out of hand – now we pay the price for management lack of action and forsight . Reluctant to honor the contract of Souray over such a long period was/is costly and should have never dragged on to begin with !

    Tough crap , what goes around comes around i guess . If they did something (management) in a half timely mode instead of dragging things on for over a year then this would have been avoided . Management can blame Souray . but they do so to cover for their own accountability in not dealing with the situation in a timely manner – of which they had plenty of time afforded them to do so by Souray and his agent before it went public ! Others, maybe all , have done the same(go after management ) in far less time than Souray did .

    • book¡e

      Agreed, they should have traded him, O’Sullivan, Nilsson, and a 1974 Datsun to the Penguins for Crosby, Malkin, and Goligoski.

      Stupid Oilers.

      Do you see the problem with my logic here? Hint – it is the same problem with your logic.

      • book¡e

        Did Sourays value go up by letting him not get moved ? If all he was worth over that year was a sack of pucks , then they should have taken it rather than allow what followed it after . Oilers thought he was worth obviously more than rest of league thought he was . The right deal never came because they overassessed Sourays value . Stubborn to a fault we got stuck with Souray scenario , don’t pass the buck all onto Souray but moreso on to managements lack of accountability here .

        • You’re wrong again, but at least consistent in eyeballing management as the bad guys.

          The Oilers looked high and low to make a deal for Souray — take that to the bank. While he was going to be difficult to move anyway because of his age and contract, he still had some value for a limited number of trade partners who had some cap space and the need for what Souray brings.

          What sent that off the rails was his broken hand in the fight with Iginla and then Souray making it a double whammy by mouthing off at the end of the season.

          Believe what I’m saying or not. If you want to find holes in decisions made by Oilers management in recent years, there are plenty. How they handled this player is not one of them.

        • book¡e

          You are presuming that another team was willing to offer up a bag of pucks for Souray at some point, my thought are that the Oilers would have probably been willing to take a sack of pucks that carried 3-4 million in Salary, but no one was interested.

      • Dutchscooter

        ‘Agreed, they should have traded him, O’Sullivan, Nilsson, and a 1974 Datsun to the Penguins for Crosby, Malkin, and Goligoski.

        Stupid Oilers.’

        Hey, I had one of those 1974 Datsuns; they were good cars! Worth more than Souray’s butt anyway. At least my Datsun was RELIABLE.

  • Mitch

    Karma is a tough lady to please once you have crossed her once. Good luck Sheldon. You’re done.
    Maybe, if he is lucky, someone will be interested come close to playoff time. But I think this year is the only window…
    GMB

  • Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate

    Everyone already knew Souray had a massive ego so it’s no surprise he’s gonna squawk when he gets farmed.

    With all the attention on the kids the brass could have sold a fake story about things being smoothed over and everyone moving on and then he’d be on the ice helping out instead of what 2 or 43 will be doing.

    but that would have been too sensible an approach I guess.

    • Mitch

      Souray was the one who went public, Pat Quinn said it best with the old “if you don’t like it here don’t screw around get the hell out” and then went on to say “how can you build team when you have a guy over in the corner that don’t want to be here.” The oilers went as far as to go with a differnt training staff, Souray has a sense of self entitlement I suspect, I don’t care how much money he makes or how good he is, he doesn’t deserve the jersey!!! Have some pride.

    • book¡e

      Maybe you missed the 400 interviews where the Oiler’s management indicated that they were more concerned about the relationships in the room as they didn’t want the new kids to face the same poisoned room that the previous group of kids did.

      Edit: That is not even to say that the management is correct in that assessment, but to make the argument that the Oilers should have somehow ‘smoothed things over’ ignores the primary argument being put forth by the team.

  • Mitch

    It would be best for Sheldon to shut the hell up! Ask the Edmonton Oilers to release him from his contract, which I’m sure they would do. The more Souray talks the less chance there is of him ever returning to the NHL. Oilers Management gets two thumbs up for sending him down. It’s very clear Souray has no value at his current salary.

  • book¡e

    Late to the stream . . . but

    I too think what he said was not really that bad (or his usual “Sourayness”) but as Brownlee later points out I see his point about the “killing them with success” is weird.

    Did he really mean something like “overwhelm them with success” or the more trite “under-promise and over deliver” – as the way he/Sheldon can prove Edmonton wrong and I can get on with another NHL team. Let’s face it the guy is not great in front of the mic.

  • Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate

    DutchScooter wrote:

    Hey, I had one of those 1974 Datsuns; they were good cars! Worth more than Souray’s butt anyway. At least my Datsun was RELIABLE.

    I owned a 74 Datsun with over 300,000 MILES on it…and although she would whine in the winter(like Shelly did in the spring), she would eventually start.

  • Ender

    Wow. I’m feeling a lot of love on this thread. To everyone who thinks I’m smarter than I really am, well, in the words of Wanye on any Saturday night:

    “I love you guys, man. No, like, I really, really love you guys. You’re the bestest guys a guy could ever . . . . . ummmmm . . . are you going to finish that donair, man?”