Sheldon Souray’s Oilers career began with much fanfare. In the complicated post-Cup run years, Souray was the biggest free agent acquisition made by Kevin Lowe. The Elk Point, Alberta product inked a five-year deal worth $27,000,000 to finally fill the massive void left on Edmonton’s blueline with the departure of Chris Pronger.
Thanks to injuries, that didn’t happen. Souray was nursing a shoulder injury in training camp in 2007 but played through it. He would end up injuring himself getting into a fight five games into the year and missed all but 26 games that season. In 2008-09, Souray was excellent. He suited up in 81 games, scored 23 goals, and logged 24:51 per game. There was the No. 1 defenceman the Oilers were hoping for.
But after that, injuries stung Souray and he would never play a full season with the Oilers again. Souray suffered a concussion three games into the 2009-10 season when Jarome Iginla hit him into the boards. He would play 37 games that season. In the off-season, Souray requested a trade from the Oilers. The Oilers responded angrily and placed Souray on waivers. He went unclaimed and played the entire 2010-11 season in the AHL. They bought out the final year of his deal and a couple of solid seasons with Dallas and Anaheim after that.
Oilers Fans, who were clearly still rattled from Pronger’s trade demand, felt scorned again, this time by a local product who chose to play here in free agency. But, looking closely, there was always something odd about the whole situation. Souray never seemed to have any issue playing in Edmonton or with the fans or anything, the trade demand was an issue with management.
“It’s not a players thing. It’s not a fans thing or a city thing. It’s a management thing,” Souray said. “They’ve given up on me, and it’s a two-way street. I don’t talk to anyone (in management) and I don’t expect to when I check out of here. I don’t really need to talk to them. There isn’t anything to say.”
Souray calling out management made him a public enemy in Edmonton. What fans saw on the surface was a player who recklessly injured themselves in a fight running their mouth out of bitterness. We never actually got a clear view of what was going on behind the scenes.
Today, in response to John Shannon tweeting about Daryl Katz’s health, Souray opened up about his personal experience dealing with an injury while with the Oilers. According to Souray, he suffered a hand injury in a fight and, after surgery, it got infected. He said the infection was so bad he nearly had to have his hand amputated and he spent 12 months with an IV bag to keep the infection from spreading to his heart. While all this was going on, Souray said he had heard Oilers management thought Souray was milking the injury to get out of having to play. Interesting how he tweeted he heard that, but didn’t mention if he asked them if they felt that way.
That’s a hell of a story. While our immediate reaction back then was to be angry at Souray for asking for a trade and bad-mouthing the organization, it always seemed fishy that things went down the way that they did. Now that this story is out in the open,(his version at least) you can see why he was so sour.