The Players’ Tribune is fast becoming one of the must-read sites for hockey fans. The latest article of interest, particularly to followers of the Edmonton Oilers, is Sheldon Souray’s The Wannabe.
Written to coincide with his last day on an NHL roster, Souray, who hasn’t played since the 2012-13 season because of surgery on his wrist and ongoing complications in recovery, made mention of his time in Edmonton.
It’s a tenure that started badly in 2007-08, when Souray claims he was rushed back from shoulder surgery after signing a big deal with the Oilers, and ended badly, with him being buried in the minors by general manager Steve Tambellini after publicly criticizing management. Souray mentions none of that in the passage relating to Edmonton. He writes:
“The people of Edmonton: Thanks for treating me so well even when things got ugly with management. All I ever wanted to do since I was a little boy was play for the Oilers. I wish it turned out better in the end, but you always made me feel at home.” Give the whole item a read. You can find it here.
Souray, who’ll go into the books with 758 NHL games and stops in New Jersey, Montreal, Edmonton, Dallas and Anaheim on his resume, takes the high road and avoids falling into the muck surrounding his last days here. For me, it’s just another reminder of just how bad things were in Edmonton during the Tambellini regime that Souray spoke out in the first place.
Without re-hashing everything written about Souray’s time in Edmonton – you can find some of the items I wrote about the situation here, here and here – it’s fair to say I was all over the place on him, his banishment to Hershey of the AHL and how his final days as an Oiler unfolded.
My common thread was that Souray had contributed to his own demise by sounding off publicly in frustration, be it about being hurried back from off-season shoulder surgery or, mostly, that Tambellini did nothing to meet his request to be traded when things went sour here. I still feel that way – that going public with grievances usually ends badly — but time, as it often does, and reflection blurs the lines on what seemed black and white for me.
What we learned after Souray went public with his trade request is that he didn’t share the situation until more than a year had passed since he asked Tambellini to move him. I, like other reporters, had gleaned bits and pieces about the request during that time but it was always off-the-record stuff, much of which Souray denied, until he went off about it.
My understanding is Tambellini had a trade on the table with Philadelphia that would have sent Souray to the Flyers for Scott Hartnell, but that came undone because Tambellini either upped the ask or tried to change the deal. Souray went public and it got ugly. He was told not to attend training camp. He was sent to Hershey. In the end, Tambellini ended up getting nothing, zippo, for Souray. What a sad chapter in the franchise books.
Enjoy retirement, Sheldon.
WHILE I’M AT IT
- With all the discussion about whether Peter Chiarelli will/should try to make a pitch for Brent Seabrook, who has one more year remaining on his deal with the Chicago Blackhawks, I can’t help thinking about the $9 million the Oilers have on the books between Nikita Nikitin and Teddy Purcell. It would be an overpayment, but I’d go as high as $9 million per season on Seabrook, but only on a five-year deal.
- I chatted with former Oiler goaltender Jeff Deslauriers at a golf tournament last week. Deslauriers, 31, lives in St. Albert. Deslauriers has been a hockey nomad since his days as an Oiler, making stops in Anaheim, Syracuse, Norfolk, Fort Wayne, Houston, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Riga Dynamo of the KHL. Deslauriers will play in Germany this season.
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260.