The Kings and Oilers have a bit of history from their old Smythe Division battles. There was that small trade in 1988 between the two teams that changed the NHL. But this—this is a new, ridiculous chapter that will stand apart for years to come.
In the latest development in the Kings/Oilers/Ryan Smyth trade saga, the Kings want further compensation from Edmonton because they were less than truthful about Colin Fraser’s injury. As the story goes (from the Kings’ perspective), they were told that Fraser was mere days away from being medically cleared to play. When Fraser’s foot was checked by LA’s doctors, they found both a cyst on the injured foot and a blood disorder that will cause him to miss the next four months. This is on the heels of Steve Tambellini trying to send the Kings Gilbert Brule—a player who the Kings planned on waiving. The only problem was that Brule hasn’t fully recovered from the concussion he suffered last season; meaning the Kings would be unable to waive him as they had planned. One trade, two players, two shady medical situations.
When speaking to Hall of Fame NHL writer Helene Elliott of the LA Times, Dean Lombardi finally let loose with his feelings on the entire situation. Needless to say, he’s less than pleased with the Oilers’ honesty throughout the process.
“The bottom line for me, I would have rather invested my money with Bernie Madoff than invest in Edmonton’s word.”
There’s not much gray area there. But he wasn’t finished. He continued, this time talking about the Oilers not disclosing the injuries of players they were attempting to trade:
“In my 20 years I’ve never had this happen once, let alone twice in one week. And people used to think maybe I was crazy but when I was scouting for Philly, Edmonton was my favorite city because of the history of the building and the crowds seemed like honest, working-class people. You still had a blue-collar feel at times. And I don’t think this conduct is emblematic of that city at all.”
It’s always nice to see a general manager speak his true feelings. Of course, the situation boils down to a he said/she said situation at its core. Lombardi and the Kings say that the Oilers told them that Fraser was going to be cleared to play and his foot injury wouldn’t be a concern. Oilers GM Steve Tambellini and the Edmonton organization don’t quite see it the same way. We’re not sure what their position is on the situation as they’ve refused to comment. But as Kings’ ownership has worked to find a suitable remedy, the Oilers have not responded to their requests either. All we know at this point is that the Kings have decided to “look at our legal avenues.”
Needless to say, there isn’t much sympathy in Edmonton today. David Staples of the Edmonton Journal doesn’t exactly see it the same way as Lombardi:
“If Lombardi has a real complaint, he can take it to the NHL. He’s apparently known for shooting off his mouth about the integrity of others.
Until Lombardi does take formal action, this comes off as something of a snit fit from a GM not used to having a star player holding a gun to his head and demanding a trade to a single specified location.”
It’s safe to assume that the Kings “legal avenues” will be some sort of grievance filed with the NHL. It shouldn’t come as any surprise as one of the craziest trades in recent memory has just hit another speed bump. To recap:
- Ryan Smyth asks for a trade
- Smyth says he didn’t ask for a trade
- It’s confirmed that he asked for a trade “for family reasons.”
- Reportedly gets traded at the draft
- Trade can’t be completed because the player the Oilers were sending out of town was so injured he couldn’t be waived.
- NHL lawyers are brought in and agree that said player cannot be waived.
- New players brought in to send to LA.
- New player even more injured than previous player.
- Edmonton claims they (and their doctors) know nothing about the major injury.
- Kings are left fuming.
Got all that? Because there will surely be more to this story. At least it helps fill the offseason…