If Sheldon Souray made it known long ago that he wants a trade, and management made it known long ago that they’ll do everything they can to accommodate him, why this?
Why the venomous stone-throwing when all it does is make things harder. And uglier?
Because Souray knows what everybody else knows.
He’s injury prone (missing 102 games over the last three seasons), he’s a big cap hit (two years left at $5.4 million), he was minus 19 in 37 games this year and he’s not getting any younger.
That’s a hard package to move these days. So hard that it might have taken until well into next season to find a suitable deal.
Souray, we discover now, is not about to let that happen.
He wanted out the moment things started going south for the Oilers and when his first trade request (when he made the noble offer to waive his no-movement clause in mid-season to further the organization’s rebuilding efforts) yielded no results, he turned up the heat, making it impossible for this team to allow him one more shift in Oilers colours.
“It’s not a players thing, it’s not a fans thing or a city thing,” the disgruntled defenceman told SportsNet in upping the trade request to a full-fledged demand. “It’s a management thing. They’ve given up on me, and it’s a two-way street.”
Souray says he was forced by management to play with an injured shoulder when he got here three seasons ago, and didn’t even get a phone call from GM Steve Tambellini in the four months since his season-ending hand injury and subsequent infection.
“I got challenged by management on the very first day of my first training camp. The very first day. I wasn’t even ready to play when I came here, but it was like, ‘We signed you, you go out and play.’
“I go out, play six games, and I get hurt.”
“I’ve had the experience of playing in great organizations (in New Jersey and Montreal), and experienced a vastly different approach to things like that. I never had my character questioned there. I feel that’s all I’ve had since I’ve been here.
“You talk about Prongs (Chris Pronger) and guys like that, and it should raise an eyebrow when players who leave town are skipping out with a smile on their face.”
That’s not burning a bridge, that’s blowing it up, while the GM is still standing on it. And what does it accomplish? The Oilers will get nothing but low ball offers now that there is a gun being held to management’s head and Edmonton, on the heels of Pronger, Dany Heatley, Marian Hossa and Michael Nylander, takes another public relations pounding.
At least Pronger was diplomatic. He gave it the old, ‘It’s not you, it’s me.’ Nobody believed him, but at least he was civil and gracious in leaving.
This is something else. Something calculated, self-serving and unprofessional. In a lot of ways it sounds like a desperate rat trying to guarantee his escape from a sinking ship.
But it doesn’t mean he’s lying.
Tambellini has two temperatures, cold and frosty, and it shouldn’t surprise anyone to learn that he is distant. The fact he’s not even bothering to address this until Wednesday, giving the quotes a full 48 hours to soak into the NHL’s soil like acid rain, gives you a little glimpse of his willingness to communicate.
And the club’s record of recurring injuries speaks for itself.
Those issues will have to be addressed moving forward because Edmonton is gaining a reputation as an unhealthy environment, figuratively and literally.
But most of this is on Souray.
If he played before he was healthy, that’s his fault. He’s a big boy, tell them he’s not ready.
And clearly he wasn’t worried enough about his shoulder to turn down a fight six games into the season. The subsequent injury is his fault, too.
And if he knew he might get moved at the last deadline, why risk those bad hands and bad shoulders in a fight with Jarome Iginla?
And if he wants to get moved this summer, why put Tambellini in handcuffs?
I can see wanting out of Edmonton, but I can’t see how the big defenceman has been helping his own cause.