SHELDON SOURAY: WHY NOT SHUT UP AND WAIT?

Calgary Flames v Edmonton Oilers

Sheldon Souray wants a trade? There’s a news bulletin. We never saw that one coming. My question, and it’s purely rhetorical, is this: does Souray think he’s helped his cause by putting words to what people close to the Edmonton Oilers have long suspected?

The answer, of course, is a resounding no. By at long last going on the record with Mark Spector of Sportsnet.ca, about his desire to be traded by the Oilers with the team cadaver barely cold after Sunday’s 7-2 loss in Anaheim, Souray has guaranteed that GM Steve Tambellini will have a more difficult time moving him. And that’s a mouthful, really, when you consider how little value an injury prone, 33-year-old defenceman with a bloated contract like Souray has on the NHL market to begin with.

Instead of biding his time and waiting to be moved, which is something Souray wanted long before he finally started making noises that he wouldn’t block a trade to certain teams this season, he pointed a gun at Tambellini’s head, then pulled the trigger and blew his own brains out at the same time.

That’ll get Souray what he wants.

TIMING IS EVERYTHING

I’ve got no problem with Spector going with the story because if I had Souray on the record saying the same things, I’d have run to my laptop like my hair was on fire, too.

Some fans would argue I did exactly that last April when I suggested Souray wanted out — something he denied not long after — without having him on the record saying so, but that’s a whole different story.

It seemed obvious to me then Souray was unhappy here and that he’d prefer to be elsewhere. But, without anything on the record from Souray himself — he didn’t respond to e-mails and interview requests regarding his situation — it was only gut instinct and speculation.

Besides, one could put Souray’s discontent down to having just finished a lousy season in which the team missed playoffs for the third straight year or to family matters that came to light since his arrival in Edmonton.

With a summer to simmer down and coach Craig MacTavish shown the door, talk of that discontent faded until Souray started making noises about waiving his no-movement clause and giving Tambellini a list of teams he’d be willing to move to. I’m wondering, though, did Souray actually ask to be traded behind closed doors before going public?

Which brings us to Monday’s Big Bang with Spector with Souray airing grievances dating all the way back to the first game he played for the Oilers — namely, the accusation he was rushed back from surgery by management.

SHUT UP AND WAIT

I can understand Souray’s frustration at being property of a team he hasn’t wanted to be part of for some time, but how was Tambellini supposed to make at deal at the last deadline with Souray done for the season after surgery on his hand? How? Don’t take that question as a broad brush defence of the job Oilers management — be it Tambellini or Kevin Lowe — has done through four straight non-playoff years, because it’s not. There’s been more than enough bungling by the front office to make that folly.

Again, though, how was Tambellini supposed to move damaged goods like Souray at the deadline? Did Tambellini have the "move me" edict March 3? Now, by going public instead of biding his time, what has Souray done to expedite a ticket out of town? Nothing, that’s what.

Was Tambellini supposed to take a box of tape or a bucket of pucks for Souray at the deadline? Was there any real interest in Souray last month? Has Souray done anything to enhance his value with his "I want a trade" proclamation? No, no and no. As if injuries hadn’t made him a tough sell already, what Souray has done is further diminish what Tambellini is likely to get for him. That’s cutting off your nose to spite your face, no?

NOW WHAT?

Chris Pronger took a lot of crap when his request for a trade out of Edmonton became public within hours of the Oilers Game 7 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes in the 2006 Stanley Cup. Some people are drawing parallels with Souray. As I see it, there’s a difference.

For starters, Pronger actually delivered value for his contract during the one season he was here. He earned every penny of that $6.25 million he was getting paid. Considering Pronger let Oilers management know he wanted out midway through the season, he was a total pro, keeping his wishes in-house until the story was broken after the Cup final by Al Strachan, a friend of Don Meehan and the agency representing Pronger. His trade request was on the table with management for months before it got out.

Once the cat was out of the bag, Pronger was vague about his reasons for wanting out, but he never lambasted the organization’s management as Souray just did — at a time those very people were trying to trade him. Souray has not delivered value for the money he’s been paid in the first three years of his contract here. And, on that front, I’m calling BS on his claim he had other options for more money than signing with the Oilers. That’s not what Souray told us in the past.

The bottom line is this: in one fell swoop, Souray just made it more difficult to get what he wants and for the Oilers to get anything resembling a return for him. That’s a lose-lose proposition if ever there was one.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

    • Chris.

      Souray's character, and motives for making certain allegations are only relevent insofar as they lend themselves to his overall credibility.

      My question is: How much of what Souray said to Spector is true?

      I've been an Oiler fan long enough to remember a young Mike Comrie, Pitkanen, and others be criticised for not playing, (or playing well) when hurt… I also remember hearing MacT praise Jason Smith for having the pain threshold of "a cadaver"… and that Smith was the kind of player who had the "level of commitment that it takes to win."

      Do you think maybe… just maybe; some of the man games lost to injury are the result of an obsolete organizational culture of machismo?

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    ~ hell, send Souray to the minors next season, that'll teach all the players who's the real boss!!! ~

    If they can't trade him then this might become an option.

  • Interesting read Mr. Brownlee.

    Any idea why Souray wants out? I missed that in your post…

    And talking about delivering value: isn't this the guy first in goals scored last year and wearing an 'A'?

    I have no idea what it would take to change this organization's outlook, but I'd start with management none-the-less.

    Edmonton Oilers have bigger problems. Souray is just a player. Whether he's trying to further his agenda or not is irrelevant: the management provided plenty of ammunition by failing miserably yet another year.

    I'd say forget Detroit model, let's look at Tampa…

    ~ hell, send Souray to the minors next season, that'll teach all the players who's the real boss!!! ~

    • Maybe you're not old enough, but the Wings stunk for most of the 80's. They drafted Stevie Y, & still stunk.

      Tampa is wrapping up an ownership debacle the past 3 years. Imagine how bad they would have been if Doug MacLean would have been involved. They have had as many coaches as owners possibly in their history. I don't think you can compare both of our teams other than our record this season. At least Tampa has a stud like Stamkos. Hopefully our pick turns into a player like him.

  • I wonder if Souray thought he was doing his teammates a favour by saying the things that everyone was thinking. You can't expect Gagner to risk his standing with the organization by telling the media that management is rushing him back from his hip problem. Souray on the other hand has one foot out the door already.

      • Gagner: Yeah. We all have to take some responsibility for what happened this year. What happens with management is out of my hands. But I think it'll give us alot of motivation this summer to train really hard and work on the things we need to do to come back next year and be better hockey players.

        Gilbert: Yeah. We all have to take some responsibility for what happened this year. What happens with management is out of my hands. But I think it'll give us alot of motivation this summer to train really hard and work on the things we need to do to come back next year and be better hockey players.

        Horcoff: Yeah. We all have to take some responsibility for what happened this year. What happens with management is out of my hands. But I think it'll give us alot of motivation this summer to train really hard and work on the things we need to do to come back next year and be better hockey players.

        POS : Whatever. I've got a hot summer of golf to get to and chicks to chase. See ya next fall suckers.

  • Good article Robin. After all of the hoopla surrounding his signing here (we can't get good free agents) he isn't helping that front much by his words now.

    Your gut feelings *edit*(observations) that you write about have been pretty much bang on since you started writing here. I guess we should be waiting for Hemsky to say he wants out too…

  • Yes, you might be the only one.

    After a so-so start, Pronger was an absolute beast when it mattered in the stretch drive and the playoffs.

    Chris could be a pain in the ass with some reporters and I know fans aren't happy he wanted out for ANY reason, but you're revising history if you're going to try to sell that he wasn't the big cog in that Stanley Cup roll.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    Pronger earned every penny of his salarie? Am I the only one that remembers what a pile of crap he was during the regular season?

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    Also that picture seems to be the common emotion for Souray. I mentioned last year that I have never seen a guy look so sad when he scored. I really have to wonder how long he has wanted out for.

    Any word to what he will do if not dealt?

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    Well no matter what happens people will complain. People complained when Pronger did the honorable thing and didn't say nothing and let Lowe let the cat out of bag. Then people complained that Pronger never said why he wanted out. Well now here it is all laid on the table. I really question the timing, but heck maybe it's a good thing.

    Right now we can only trade to non-playoff teams, and right now Sather still has a job. If Souray waited maybe Sather is fired and no deal can be made with the Rangers.

    Souray was probably not going to be here next year, so this really isn't that big of news to me other then the allegations of management pressuring him.

  • Jmask5

    Thank you very much. That's exactly the case. Why would anyone want this guy? What he also managed to do is make it more difficult for the Oilers to fill out their roster with some UFAs. We needed a 3rd/4th line guy to win some face offs and a couple of shutdown guys on D. Those players are now much tougher to acquire because if this.

    • Yes, I recall reports of Montreal being in the running, but I'm pretty clear about Souray telling me (and Matheson, I think it was) that Edmonton's offer was well north of anything else he had on the table and that there was no way he could turn it down.

      That's not quite the same as implying he had lots of choices at the kind of money he took here.