Souray must sit

TERRY JONES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:52 AM ET

Can you leave town saying you want to be traded and have the organization spend all summer working hard to accommodate you without a sniff of success, and then just show up saying youíre gung ho, ready to go?

The answer, if your name is Sheldon Souray, is no.

ďHeís been informed he not be attending camp,Ē said Edmonton Oilersí general manager Steve Tambellini in a brief telephone interview with your correspondent Monday from Penticton, B.C., where the Oilersí rookies are involved in a pre-camp tournament this week.

ďHe was informed of this some days ago,Ē added Tambellini. ďWeíre still going to try to move him. Weíre going to have to find a way to move him.Ē

An hour or so later the Oilers issued a release to that effect and Tambellini made himself available to reporters between periods of a game between Vancouver Canucks and San Jose Shark rookies to make similar statements.

So what was that you watched on your supper-hour sportscasts and on TSN Monday evening?

Souray showed up at Kinsmen Arenas where several Oiler veterans were engaging in a pre-training camp session announcing he had every intention of showing up when the main camp opens this weekend.

ďThings that I said, thatís five months ago. We are in a completely different spot now and thereís a lot of optimism,Ē Souray told a small media scrum.

ďWeíve got some good young players coming in and they are going to need a healthy environment. Itís up to the guys to provide that for them. Iíve got a little bit of experience and you just try to lend that.

ďItís not awkward at all for me,Ē he continued to give sound bites. ďI just stated some of the facts that I was feeling at the time and thatís it. To come back and see the guys is actually a positive thing. Once you kind of get around that camaradarie with the guys that I havenít been around since January of last year, It just picks up your spirits.

ďIím a professional and Iím going to come to camp and try to help the team whatever way I can. Iíve got to get myself back to the player I want to be. Itís been a frustrating past three years for me because of injuries Iíve had to deal with.

ďIím here in camp and Iím here to do the best I can and I want to keep things positive. I have something to prove to myself first of all and to my team-mates and to whoever has doubted me. Iím using that as motivation for this year. Iím focused. Iím ready to go and Iím healthy.

Those are the main things.

ďEverybody is having fun out there, things are going to start to get serious in a few days, but for now itís really good to get back and see the guys and just catch up a little bit and Iím looking forward to catching up more in the future.Ē

But this was several days after being informed he was not going to be allowed on the ice with the team at the main camp?

So what was he doing out there, wearing an Oilersí practice jersey and acting like it was going to be no problem making a seamless transition back?

Was he trying to talk his way back into camp?

Coming off injuries and with two years at $4.5 million per year remaining on his contract and, even more problematic, a cap hit of $5.4 million per year, the Oilers struck out trying to do a deal.

Clearly the Oilers made the decision some time ago that they didnít want Souray back to poison the pond as former head coach Pat Quinn suggested had been the case with the native of Elk Point.

ďIím one of those guys that, if you donít want to play here, donít screw around, get the hell out,Ē Quinn told reporters in the spring.

ďIf you have one guy sitting over there who doesnít bloody well want to be here, how do you build trust?Ē

Quite clearly the Oilers decided they had to move on past Sheldon Souray some time ago.

It would appear that owner Daryl Katz is willing to fulfill the Oilers obligation to pay him even if they wonít play him.

And clearly not allowing Souray to set foot in camp is Steve Tambellini continuing his attempt to hit the refresh button wherever possible in attempting to reclaim the team which dropped to 30th place in the 30-team league for the first time in their history.

terry.jones@sunmedia.ca


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