Oilers GM on Souray: Time to move on

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:40 PM ET

They say father knows best, and Sheldon Souray's father knows as well as anyone that leaving the Oilers is best for his boy.

"If he gets bought out that's great," said Richard Souray, when told that the Oilers placed the big defenceman on waivers for the purpose of buying him out. "I am so happy, it's unbelievable."

Richard said he hated how his son was blacklisted in Edmonton and banished to the American Hockey League for all of last season and just wanted to see him get a new lease on the NHL.

"I'm very happy he has a fresh start, I just want my boy to carry on with his life," said Richard, whose son hasn't been speaking with the media since the situation with Edmonton blew up last year. "He's going to be so happy."

This will close the book on a feel-good story that turned ugly in a hurry.

Souray began his tenure in Edmonton four years ago amid great fanfare. With big name players leaving town on every flight and Edmonton's reputation taking a terrible public relations hit, the Oilers held him up as a trophy signing and viewed the five-year, $27 million salary as a worthwhile overpayment.

At his best, Souray lived up to the deal. He was a physical presence on the ice and a charismatic, well-liked player by his teammates. He had 53 points in 81 games in his second season, but that was book-ended by hand, shoulder and concussion injuries turned him into a part-time guy. He had 10 points in 26 games his first year and 13 in 37 his third.

He also got tired of the losing and wanted a trade, and tried to force management's hand at the end of the year by carving them publicly. He accused them of pressuring him to play before his injured shoulder was fully recovered and said GM Steve Tambellini never bothered visiting him or checking up on him in the hospital while Souray battled a serious staph infection.

"When he was in the hospital with that hand there was some discussion about losing it if they didn't get the staph infection under control," said Richard. "You can imagine where his mind was at. When he came out he talked to me about it. I told him, you do what you feel what you have to do, but make absolutely certain you tell the absolute truth, no embellishments, nothing extra, the truth from your heart, and you'll have to pay the consequences."

And they were severe.

The Oilers barred him from training camp and when they couldn't trade him, banished him to Washington's AHL team. He spent the entire year riding buses and playing in nowhere burgs.

"He said nothing but positive things about playing in Hershey," said Richard. "He certainly didn't like being there compared with the show, that goes without saying, but he went down and he played hard, knowing that every gun fighter in the league would be challenging him."

Now, with one year left on his deal, Oilers management says he still isn't welcome and will buy him out at two-thirds of his $4.5 salary.

So the big-name defenceman from Alberta and the Oilers are happy to be going their separate ways. The marriage made in heaven ends in bitter divorce.

"You want any player that you have to have as much success as possible," said Tambellini. "For whatever reason it didn't work out. It's time to move on."

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