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?
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.