In case you didn’t hear last night’s startling news, the Edmonton Oilers told expensive defenseman turned highly publicized trade bait Sheldon Souray to stay away from their training camp this summer.
The decision was surprising to just about anyone outside of the Oilers organization, including Souray. Here is what the beleaguered blueliner told the Edmonton Journal.
Tambellini not only doesn’t want Souray in training camp, he also made it clear that the defenceman will not be in an Oilers jersey at any point this season.
“Master of the obvious … I guess they don’t want this to be a distraction,” said Souray, who voiced his displeasure with management at the end of last season and said he wanted to be traded.
“I wouldn’t be a distraction … I was planning on coming in, planning on being focused and ready to do whatever to be a professional,” said Souray, who is back in town skating with the other Oilers at Kinsmen Arena.
On one hand, I commend the Oilers for standing their ground and for avoiding the disingenuous practice of acting like the trade requests and negative feelings never existed. The team clearly wants to change from the culture that helped produce an absolutely disastrous 2009-10 season in which Edmonton was far and away the worst team in the NHL.
The thing is, if GM Steve Tambellini struggled to find decent trade value for Souray during the summer, how exactly is he going to find a good market now that every general manager knows that the 34-year-old defenseman will absolutely not play a second for the Oilers this season?
This reminds me of the predicament the Chicago Blackhawks were in when they needed to move Dustin Byfuglien for salary cap reasons, with four obvious caveats: Byfuglien is young, didn’t deal with injury problems, is far less expensive and has the musk of victory rather than the stink of defeat attached to his name like Souray.
Edmonton is in a tough spot when it comes to moving Souray, but with the near-callous way they are acting right now, it’s difficult to feel much empathy for them. Souray begins to look like a bit of a victim – albeit a well compensated one – as this situation drags on.