Healthy and happy again, Sheldon Souray resisted the urge to dish any dirt when reporters gathered around this morning looking for some juicy quotes about his unhappy time with the Edmonton Oilers. Souray took the high road, and it looked good on him.
Written off as a spent force and a malcontent has-been by a lot of people, including me, after speaking his mind got him banished to the AHL on loan by the Oilers last season, Souray has SIUTBOHC through the 19 games he’s played with the Dallas Stars.
In that sense, he’s been every bit of an unlikely feel-good a story for the Stars as Nikolai Khabibulin, who was supposed to be finished, done and over with as an NHL goaltender, has been for the Oilers.
With 4-9-13 for the Stars, Souray has been an anchor on the Dallas defence. He’s been scoring at a rate we haven’t seen since 2008-09, when he had 53 points with the Oilers before injuries sent his career sideways and his public disdain for the way he was handled by GM Steve Tambellini landed him on the outs in Edmonton.
At 35, Souray is playing the brand of hockey for the Stars that fans in Edmonton didn’t get enough of as injuries limited him to seasons of 26, 81 and 37 games on a big ticket with the Oilers.
He’s obviously not done yet.
SPEAKS HIS MIND
As Jason Gregor suggested in his GDB, Souray’s source of discontent in Edmonton was with Tambellini and team management in concert with the frustrations brought on by injuries and the Oilers inability to compete. He had a lousy time on a lousy team.
That said, I never once heard Souray trash the city or fans of the team. I never heard anybody once say Souray was a bad teammate. An unhappy one? Yes. There’s a difference.
Despite good intentions on both sides, Souray never got settled in here and it went wrong from the get-go. Feeling he was rushed back from a shoulder injury after signing with the Oilers and missing 56 games in 2007-08, things started to slide between Souray and Tambellini pretty quickly, despite those 53 points in his only healthy season.
When Souray sounded off at the end of the 2009-10 season, he was finished as an Oiler, big ticket or not. Rather than have him around last season, Tambellini loaned him to Hershey of the AHL while owner Daryl Katz kept signing his cheques.
I applauded Tambellini more than once for sticking by his guns — keeping Souray away from a dressing room full of young players and eliminating any chance his unhappiness would poison the well after his public bowel movement on the organization. On principle, I still do.
Souray was made available to any team that wanted him through trade and waivers at a cut rate, but nobody bit. He never did stay healthy long enough to attract much interest. The New York Rangers took at look-see in Hershey but eventually passed. He finished last season with 4-15-19 in 40 games with the Bears. He looked done. I thought he was.
Obviously not. Dallas GM Joe Nieuwendyk thought different and took a chance on him, signing Souray to a one-year deal at $1.65. So far, he’s looked like money in the bank — big and nasty as always and unloading that wicked shot from the point. The kind of defenseman the Oilers could use right about now, no? Classic SIUTBOHC.
So, when reporters leaned in today looking for some notepad-filling commentary, Souray could have been excused for unloading another movement on Tambellini and on those who deemed him done.
"We’re just focusing here for tonight. It’s a big game for us here," said Souray. "We’re needing the points. We’re in a little bit of a tailspin here, so it’s just a bit of focusing and getting ready for tonight’s game.
"Edmonton wasn’t the first team I played for and it’s been a couple years since I played there, so it’s really just another game for us. It’s been awhile since I was an Oiler, so I’m really just trying to focus on tonight and what we have to do here."
Healthy. Happy. He’s moved on.
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.