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Sheldon Souray Demands A Trade

"I want a trade.  I do.  Yes, I do want a trade.  It’s not a players thing. It’s not a fans thing or a city thing. It’s a management thing.  They’ve given up on me, and it’s a two-way street.  I don’t talk to anyone (in management) and I don’t expect to when I check out of here.  I don’t really need to talk to them. There isn’t anything to say.  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."

--From Mark Spector's exclusive piece on Sheldon Souray's trade demands.

Souray's trade value just plummeted from "cap-killer" to completely non-existent.  Yet another big ticket player ushered in and quickly ushered out, and another with quotes that bring disbelief to the fans.  Pronger, Smyth, Pitkanen, Cole, Visnovsky and now Souray -- if this doesn't cause the lights to go on in Rexall HQ, I'm not sure what will.  The team is in the tank, the player turnover churns on and on and management stays in place.  I wouldn't be surprised if at least two more meal tickets talk trade this summer.

Souray also boldly claims that he was pressured by management to play hurt.  He frames this in the context of starting his first season in Edmonton and not being cleared to play.  Remember, Souray represented Lowe saving his and the Oilers' reputation after the Pronger and Smyth incidents, and Souray not starting the season because of injury would have been an enormous embarrassment to Lowe. 

I don't know the veracity of Souray's statements, but considering the issues that the OIlers have had with sending players onto the ice well before they were ready, or in some cases well before the team actually knew what was wrong with the player, Souray is touching on a sore spot with many fans.  It will be interesting to see how that plays out.  I'm still extremely interested to know how Steve Staios was cleared to play the next game after a concussion this season - a concussion that ended up sending Staios to the shelf for a couple of weeks after that initial game back.

Souray is very careful to praise Ken Lowe for his diligence and follow-up, and considering the abuse that Lowe takes in the 'sphere, it's interesting that Souray put that defense out there first - effectively cutting off any retreat that management could have made on the communication aspect of his second injury of the season.  Tambellini and Kevin Lowe can still claim that Ken Lowe was effectively communicating those updates upstairs and they didn't feel the need to intervene.  Though I would expect that since Tambellini was trying to shop Souray at the deadline he would have wanted to be close to the injury and doctor's situation for trade discussions.  It also explains how the infection took the franchise by surprise and would explain the hasty press release on deadline day, when the Oilers admitted that Souray was back in the hospital with infection complications.

That he and Tambellini haven't talked since January isn't a surprise in most quarters on the 'sphere.  Openness and transparency, even amongst their own employees, is not a priority in the organization.  Considering the other issues we've seen in this area, this is plausible.

He also brings up Pronger leaving town with a smile on his face.  Souray knew about the Pronger situation well before signing with Edmonton and certainly should have had conversations with him.  Bringing the situation up now looks like he's purposefully picking a scab that Lowe just can't get to heal.

One last interesting quote:

"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."

Is that a subtle mention of the perception that Edmonton is impossible to handle because of the fan pressures?  Is Souray saying that perception is completely wrong, or am I trying to read between the lines to get at something that's not there?  If you recall, both Erik Cole and Joni Pitkanen had nice things to say about the room and their teammates, but stopped short of saying much about the organization.

The early reaction was to slam Souray as a whiner and a disruption, but it was pretty obvious that Spector had this piece set to go at season end as he released it a couple of hours after the season was over.  My take on that is that Souray asked him to hold off until the season was over so that he wouldn't be a distraction to the team in season.  It's pretty clear that he wants to be a distraction to management in the off-season though.