EDMONTON, AB - JANUARY 26:  Sheldon Souray #44 of the Edmonton Oilers steps off the ice after warming up before a game against the Chicago Blackhawks at Rexall Place on January 26, 2010 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.  The Blackhawks beat the Oilers 4-2.  (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

We’ll turn our attention to the upcoming playoffs a little later in the day, but the big story this morning is that Edmonton Oilers defenceman Sheldon Souray has demanded a trade.  While that sort of request is big news in and of itself, the reasons Souray gives are even more interesting.


According to Souray, he likes the city, loves the fans, and would have had no difficulty playing in the fishbowl that is Edmonton.  Instead, his anger is the result of one thing: management.  A few choice quotes from the article:


“Management has soured on me, and I’ve soured on them.  The fans are great, they’ve accepted me here, I see the jerseys in the stands. I couldn’t have pictured a more opposite vision of what my experience here would be like. What the organization here would be like, overall."


"I feel now that, when I signed here, I probably was as blinded by their great past as (the Oilers) are.”


“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 was a captain in Montreal. I never had my character questioned there, or in New Jersey. I feel that’s all I’ve had since I’ve been here."


Souray claims that while the medical staff in Edmonton were excellent, management repeatedly pressured him to play before he was fully recovered from injury.  It’s a complaint that fits in well with the anecdotal evidence from the last few years, although at this point it’s unconfirmed.  Souray also complained that he hadn’t even talked to Steve Tambellini since January.


There’s been a lot of backlash against Souray by fans of the Oilers, which doesn’t surprise me in the slightest despite the fact that he was one of the most lionized players on the team prior to his latest injury.  Certainly Souray must have expected a negative reaction; this sort of incident doesn’t help his reputation in the slightest and it’s easy to spin it off into all sorts of negatives about his character.


That said, Souray’s hardly the only player to leave Edmonton in a huff.  The exodus following the 2006 Stanley Cup run is well-known, and there have been persistent rumours that players currently on the team want out or are unlikely to re-sign with the club when their current deals end.  The latter are just rumours of course, but Edmonton has done a lot to alienate players, going back to Mike Comrie’s first stint in town.


At some point, the fan-base is going to stop vilifying the individual players and start looking at the team’s management (as a comedian put it: “The only consistent thing in all your screwed up relationships is you”).  They’ve driven this squad to the lowest point in the history of the franchise, signed a long series of albatross contracts, and generally made miscalculation after miscalculation.


They’ve also alienated enough players that something like this was bound to happen eventually.

Comments (21)

  1. good for him, that organization is a mess

  2. Good luck trading that contract. Both parties will be better off without each other.

  3. You really have to wonder what he is thinking and whether he has any common sense.

    Souray indicated he wanted out back in January and the Oilers were looking to trade him. Then the dumbass gets into a stupid fight that breaks his hand thus making him almost impossible to trade.

    He mentions that in his first season management badgered him into playing while not being fully recovered but he was the one who decided to fight while hurt. He reinjured himself and than missed most of the season.

    Now he demands a trade and bashes Oiler management. They were going to try and trade him already so all this does is hurt his trade value and further diminish Oiler chances of signing any free agents in the offseason. This interview he participated in hurts the orginization and thus indirectly hurts the fans who were hoping to see positive moves in a rebuild.

  4. Souray is not the first to asked to be traded and wont be the last! I am sure there is truth to what he is stating and that he is the one to finally have the balls and stand up for himself and the rest of the Oilers that have been so quite and hush hush about everything that has happened to this storied franchise over the last couple of years since the salary cap came into affect! After reading this maybe Pronger did take the high road out instead of stating the truth!!! I am a die hard Oil fan and am pretty tired of bloated contacts to 3rd line players thinking they are worth 1st line contracts! A lot of the blame has to go out to management offering these players those type of contracts!!! I bet the players who have these ridiculous contracts were almost laughing when they were signing the dotted lines!!! I only hope that in the near future that the young talent we have is not wasted on more poor decisions by the top brass and that the Oilers can bring some respectability back to this once proud organization!!!

  5. Oh no. What will the Oilers do without their super-injury-prone, super-overpaid, aging, and declining defenseman?

    I’m gonna send him to Oklahoma City.

  6. Sheldon said: “After reading this maybe Pronger did take the high road out instead of stating the truth!!! ”

    Are you serious? Pronger took the high road? LOL
    Pronger is the guy who went on the Jim Rome show ripped on the Oiler fans and claimed that they broke into his house, took out the baby furniture he was renting and set it on fire on his front lawn. This was with nary a rebuttal from Rome. If renting baby furniture when you have a 5 year contract does not speak volumes of your intentions to leave town, nothing does.

    As for Souray, I am not surprised at all by his comments and I am waiting for other 30+ aged players to do the same. The writing is on the wall with all of the recent signings. This team is going younger and will be developing for the next couple of years. There will be no place for overpaid injury prone players in the future.

    If Souray was rushed back why the heck did he decide then to fight Inginla? He could have kept doing what he was doing and let the other players pick up the slack.

    The Oilers are a mess and if anyone thinks this is going to be resolved in the next year or two are dreaming. I hate to admit it but I see a seven year, Ritch Winter predicted, rebuild happening. If this is the case, good luck on getting the arena built.

  7. SierraRacs:

    “There will be no place for overpaid injury prone players in the future.”

    Given what Steve Tambellini did last summer, signing the overpaid and injury-prone Nikolai Khabibulin to a four-year deal, I wouldn’t be nearly so sure of that. Particularly given the numerous reports citing the Oilers’ interest in Jagr.

  8. It is funny that everyone wants to rip on Souray, when he is simply the latest in a series of players to be saying the same thing. Let’s debate the merit of what he has to say if he is the only one saying. Let’s talk about how he is injury-prone and made foolish choices with his body when he is the only one out with long-term persistent injuries. But let’s not attack the guy because he says the same thing that media-types, bloggers and former players are all saying about the managerial incompetence of this current crew. Souray is not the issue here – the decision-makers are.

  9. Please, Goes to show a huge lack of class in my opinion. He did right when discussing a tradae the first time. “If it helps the team I have given a list to tambi.”

    This is now more of a screw all you guys request with no concern to the team at all.

    He complains that he got no call from Tambi. Well when was the last time any of you got hurt at work and had a some phone calls from your boss? You are usually the one calling him to let him know when your doctors says you can go back to work. Or you have to show up to work everydsay to do light duty or something.

    What a bunch of babies the NHL has turned out to be. If Tambi can not get a 1st round pick for him.Make him the highest 3rd line D pairing in the league with Smid.

  10. OilersGM: This has less to do with Souray than it has to do with the impact his statements have on Edmonton’s image. I’m glad he emphasized management was the problem – meaning this is a solvable problem, and not an inherent problem with the Edmonton market.

  11. Jonathan Willis:
    “Given what Steve Tambellini did last summer, signing the overpaid and injury-prone Nikolai Khabibulin to a four-year deal, I wouldn’t be nearly so sure of that. Particularly given the numerous reports citing the Oilers’ interest in Jagr.”

    It is my hope that lessons have been learned in regards to signing older, injury prone players. I am going on the latest batch of signings and trades when I made my comment. I am hoping that the Jagr stuff was just posturing on his part to show his current team that there is interest in N.A. for him to return. If he does join the Oilers it had better only be a one year deal and he’s there to help the younger players, like Adam Oates supposedly did a few years back.

  12. the oilers like any other team in a rebuilding phase go thru ups and downs and it’s due to the media in canada that stories like these are blown out of proportion.
    Is it really all that important? No probably not.

  13. As an Oilers fan I do believe that management does have an issue communicating with players. These guys forget that it’s the players we come to see, not them. Fire Tambellini or read him the riot act regarding his communication skills. You can see on television that he an introvert without any people skills whatsoever. Lowe on the other hand has people skills but is a complete idiot when it comes to long term deals.

    We in a lose-lose with both of them. They’ll probably somehow mess up this first round pick.

  14. Jenna Tailia: If Oilers management is rushing their players into the lineup before they finish rehab, it matters. It also matters that they seem to alienate so many different players.

    It doesn’t matter as much as management’s basic inability to build a team, but it does matter.

  15. To clarify, he’s not claiming they rushed him back from his recurrent wrist injury, he’s claiming they rushed him back from his shoulder injury that he brought with him into his first season in Edmonton – the one he re-injured a few games in and which caused him to miss the whole season. So his fight with Iginla is not at all related to management’s pressure to play hurt and is not a gesture of hypocrisy.

    Also, no one intends to break their wrist when fighting. If he didn’t get hurt we’d be cheering his toughness for getting even with Iginla. No one blames Milan Lucic for breaking his hand this year while fighting, even though he has had repeated fractures in his throwing hand and knows that it’s a possibility. It’s only when a guy demands fair treatment as a worker and calls foul on all the old-timey bs about a player’s necessary loyalty to his employer (albeit an employer shrouded in the mystique of ‘the team’) that fans are suddenly claiming he’s a ‘wuss.’ If you (the fan) had a serious workplace injury and your boss told you to work through it, you could take the company to court in Canada and you’d be right to do so! But when it’s a hockey player, we (as a group of fans) side with the boss and tell the player to ‘suck it up’ and do what’s best for the team.

    It’s time this management group was shown the door for endangering their players, and it’s time the union became more aggressive in grieving this sort of behaviour by teams. Thank you, Sheldon Souray, for having the guts and brains to tell the world what’s going on behind closed doors.

  16. “Is it really all that important? No probably not.”

    So if a guy dies of Second Impact Syndrome because he was sent back the next game after getting a Grade II concussion, that won’t matter? Okay, good to know.

  17. they talk about blowing up this team and rebuilding. Management should be a part of that. Hire new management staff.

  18. I could not agree more about Souray having the nerve to stand up for himself. Ask yourself this, if what he said is true or even if he believes it to be true, what would you have done? I know I was not put on this earth to take crap from people and I bet neither was Sheldon. His fight Iginla proves that beyond a shadow of a doubt.

    You know things must have gotten pretty bad and had little chance of improvement and ask for a trade. His family is in Edmonton, how many people would leave that situation if they did not have to?

    Do I wish he was not going, you bet. What a great player and asset to our city! He has the same giving nature and sense of community involvement that I have, only I do not have the fame to go along with it. I have total admiration for him for this reason, in particular.

    Hockey is a big deal in Edmonton, especially for those of you that grew up on the Oiler’s of the 80s. Because that is my situation, I have to say I’ll always be an Oiler fan, however after this, I will be a lot less prideful about the team. Before Souray came here, the only favorite Oiler I had was Moog, that is a long time to not attach yourself to a player.

    Over the years when things are not working and the team does not make the playoffs the fans have blamed the players, the coaching staff, the small Canadian budget, and until now, nobody mentioned management. Hmmm, at your place of work, who makes the decisions…every place I have worked that would be management. Poorly managed companies are not successful!

  19. Bravo Souray it’s about time! To risk losing credibility at this stage in sourays career and finally speaking out about the injustices going on with the managemant staff (tambellini or is it tambellweeney) of the oilers is beyond brave and should be rewarded. Sheldon Souray has to much to lose to throw false accusations around that could possibly destroy his career. It was obvious after the cheap shot with Iginla on Souray that Souray played again WAY to Soon for his injuries to fully heal! Not only that given the way the team has been playing for some time all for themselves and not as a team it’s as though they are to afraid to come together for fear of losing single play recognition while being favored by management. So much crap going on in management don’t know what might come of their careers. Majority of the players like to toot their own horn toooo much (gagner) and not standing up for each other is allowing MORE injuries! Quinn is amazing and if he had more say with better people to answer to The Oilers could go far! Alas takes more than a blog to assist positive changes and the oilers fans are the ones missing out in the end ;(

  20. Who will they have left on d?
    Whitney and Nilson?

  21. Oilers will have too many good forwards(hemsky, horcoff, hall/seguin, penner, eberle, p-s, brule, ganer, cogs, mabey spezza) and no d! answer: trade cogs gagner for spezza, trade pesani, souray for better d!

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