Souray: a marriage of convenience?

CALGARY, AB, CANADA - AUGUST 4: Steve Staios of the Calgary Flames puts on his jersey at the NHL Heritage Classic Press Conference at McMahon Stadium on August 4, 2010 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Dylan Lynch/Getty Images)

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.

SUNRISE, FL - DECEMBER 7: Sheldon Souray #44 of the Edmonton Oilers skates prior to the game against the Florida Panthers on December 7, 2009 at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Florida. The Oilers defeated the Panthers 3-2 in a shoot out. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

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?


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.

  • smiliegirl15

    tender ears and impressionable minds?

    Don’t those exist in the minors too? either way it seems to be a lose/lose proposition.

    I think Souray needs to kiss and make up for the good of all involved, most pressingly, himself if he thinks another team is going to want to touch him with a ten foot hockey stick.

    • Souby

      I couldn’t agree more. You would hope that Souray would be smart enough to realize that his attitude and remarks have directly contributed to his non-existent trade value.

      Souray and the Oilers need to mend this fence just long enough to get someone, anyone, interested.

    • Ender

      Regarding ‘tender ears and impressionable minds‘, I think there’s a big difference to players between the Organization saying “We don’t like this guy, but we’re going to give him top minutes in the Show because he’s left us with no other choice” versus saying “Take a good look; if you screw us like this guy did, this will happen to you too.

      If Souray comes back to Edmonton, he’d be doing so as ‘one of the guys’. If he goes to OKC, I think it would be a bit more as a social pariah. He wouldn’t be shunned or anything, but I can’t see anyone in a hurry to become his best friend down there either.

      • smiliegirl15

        Good point Ender. On the other hand, social pariah or no, he may cause trouble being the grumpy old man on the bench because “no one sees his true value~”!

        The only way the Oilers could get out of paying him in the Sykora scenario is if he refuses to report to OKC. Wait and see???

        I still like Souray as a player; when he wasn’t injured, he was a pretty great guy to have on the team.

        My question is this – if he reports to training camp, does he have to clear re-entry waivers too? How many teams may be willing to bite at half price?

    • VMR

      Yeah if he doesnt show up the Oilers can waive him and if no other team grabs him they can void the contract but like Robin said why would Souray give up that sweet contract he signed?

      • Mitch

        He’s already been waived so if you’re correct then they can void his contract if he doesn’t show up at camp. Unless of course the Oilers instruct him not to show up.

          • Ender

            Yes, I know, lol, that’s why I said in the post that if he doesn’t show up at camp they can void his contract if Falco is correct and then I said unless the Oilers instruct him to not show up.

            Meaning if Souray doesn’t show up, void away, but if the Oilers instruct him not to show up then they can’t void away.

  • 9 Inches Uncut

    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?

    Being in the AHL sort of insures he’s hanging with the kids doesn’t it?

    • Yep. At least some of them.. not so sure that helps any better. ~Maybe we send him to the ECHL.~ 😛

      I’m thinking we’ll have to find some team in dire need of unloading an equally bad disaster.

      • Sending him to Stockton would benefit him as he would be closer to his kids…

        I suspect that Sheldon will have a “hat-in-hand” presser and say that he was speaking out of frustration at the end of last season and he genuinely is looking forward to being a positive part of the rebuild here going forward. Renney, along with Tambellini will be there, and Horcoff, Whitney or whoever the C or associate C’s are would be in attendance to shake his hand and slap him on the back, showing the ticket buying public that his apology was well received. Come February, if still healthy, he gets moved to a contender for a draft pick and a prospect minor leaguer.