Saturday, July 07, 2007

Sheldon, What Could You Be Thinking?

As of this writing, Sheldon Souray, remains stranded in the free agent abyss, obviously no longer a Montreal Canadien, yet not belonging to any other NHL organization.

It would be easier to understand his turning down the Canadiens multiple offers, had he signed a contract elsewhere by now. Logic would evidently follow any move, but so far Souray and his agent appear to have painted themselves into a corner.

All that is known about his negotiations with any teams so far, is that he has turned down what seems to have been the last Canadiens offer on Sunday July 2. The reported 4 year - $22 million deal then fell into the lap of Roman Hamrlik, who happily snapped up the somewhat bloated renumeration.

Sheldon, give your head a shake! Was returning to the scene of your success such a terrible idea?

I was surprised to hear that Habs GM Bob Gainey would make such an alluring offer to Souray, I was even more startled that Sheldon would turn it down.

Seeing as how other NHL teams with cash to spare have been filling out their rosters daily, the number of possible destinations and options for Souray seem to be dwindling. Rumours, for what they are worth, have pointed him in the direction of San Jose, Dallas, New Jersey, Edmonton, and the dreaded New York Rangers.

It makes one wonder what exactly could have gone wrong in Souray's negotiations to this point.

Perhaps turning down up to three offers from the team that groomed Souray into an All Star is a red flag.

Maybe it's that career year thing, with many GM's sensing it can't be duplicated.

Many will say it is Souray's brutal plus minus stat, that owes ten substractions to David Aebischer's juicy rebounds, that are scaring the sounder teams away.

There are also teams that will concern themselves with Souray's personal life, unfair as that is.

Could it be an agent issue, considering the big payday at hand? Paul Theofanous, an IMG affiliated agent who has handled the careers of Anika Kournikova and Michael Nylander, among many others, has shady written all over him.

It might be that late season shoulder injury, that kept Souray out of a final regular season game when he was needed most. No one will know how good the healing and rehab went until Souray plays again. I doubt this point, considering the Canadiens offer - but who knows what really was offered. Only fools bank on heresay!

Two wrist injuries? His cannon shot ought to alleviate any such fears his wrists are of any concern.

Talking to Canadiens fans about Souray's trek into the free agent desert, I am finding many who feel as I do. The consistant opinion is that Souray was worth more to a Canadiens team that knew how to employ him, than he is to teams who simply see statistics and sense a risk.

When I mention that Souray was offered $5.5 million dollars over 4 years, eyes roll! People are confounded as to why he passed it up.

Of course, there is a world of difference between the intrigued hockey fan chugging a beer, and the informed GM on the job, but sometimes perceptions are everything.

What puzzles me most, is that all season long, Souray seemed quite sincere about remaining a Montreal Canadien. Most athletes don't comment so profoundly on their own rumours as Souray did, and he was often adamant about his denials in asking for a trade, or his supposed West Coast desires.

There was that "unfinished business" quote that stuck to many Habs diehards.

The comments from Souray that rang in Habs fans ears all season long had to do with how much time there remained to negotiate, and how much money was too much money. Team concerns always took precedence in Souray's view. It seemed like comforting honesty at the time.

Now one week after the free agent doors have swung open, Souray is still up for grabs.

Eventually, questions as to why this is so, will be answered. Money amounts will play into the equation. The right fit on the right team will be measured as well.

I have been tempted to call Souray's agent Paul Theofanous myself ( Phone: 212-874-3043, Fax: 212-874-3997) and ask him why Sheldon is no longer the same perfect fit he was in Montreal all these years.

The scenario almost begs the question.


fvincent said...

I find it quite irresponsible to post the agent's contact information alongside a comment like that. Why not just come right out and ask people to do what you suggest? Perhaps you are tempting them to say and/or do worse?

Regardless of how you might feel about the situation with Souray, I don't think opening the door to trouble is a wise approach.

Pete The Fleet said...

Obviously Souray is misguided by someone or something. Maybe ego took over. 5.5M would have been less than Markov, the media FRANCHISE player. With his horrific +/- he won't be missed on the blueline, Aebischer or no. Hamrlik will fill in nicely on the PP. My buddy and I have been calling Souray "Pilon" for years. Good luck to him.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with everything you've said about sheldon...Rumor has it that his agent is very disliked in the sporting community and that many do NOT want and will NOT deal with him! That could be problematic to say the least! As for fvincent; Your finding it irresposible to post souray's agents phone number..Is obviously YOUR opinion, which you are intitled to. However with 7 or 8 clicks on the same keyboard in front of you, the phone number could be found anyway...Your acting as if he's posted the guy's home address. If I suggested that you...JUMP IN FRONT OF A TRAIN, and happen to give you directions to a spot with easy access to the tracks, And you DO IT! Am I in anyway responsible! The way YOU see things perhaps..But the accurate answer would be NO!

Either way great article!

Sheldon's friend said...

fvincent, if you were aware enough before spewing and spouting, you'd jump over to and see a listing of every agent with phone numbers.

I found this posting to possess an excellent synopsis. While it's seemingly unlikely that Sheldon will return to Montreal, stranger things have happened.

At this point, it might take clearing up some cap space with a trade or taking less in the first year.

Meanwhile, if this agent talk is all true, Sheldon ought to look at firing him and finding someone more reasonable...and finding a way to get a deal done with the Habs, if that is where his heart really is (I suspect he's been lead down the primrose path.)

I wish Sheldon nothing but the best, wherever he lands. But Sheldon, you owe no loyalty to a guy that, if true, would sell you down the river.

Bryan said...

boy, this was hard to find

ManApart said...

I believe Souray was lieing when expressing his desire to remain in Mtl. If you look at someone who really wanted to stay like Markov, a deal was struck up in a few days. Like Souray, Markov could have gotten 500k more annually on the open market but was happy to get his wish to play in Mtl. and thus jumped at BG's offer. Markov was being sincere. I don't think a 5 year 30 million dollar deal that Souray is looking for is enough of a difference to totally diregard BG's offer if he really was sincere about staying in Mtl. At the very least he could have come back with a counter offer which it looks like he did not do. Souray was not being sincere.

I believe Souray's ego in regards to his "sexy boy" status has gotten in the way. I think he wants to transcend his hockey notoriety into Amerian pop culture notoriety,date starlets go to in parties etc. Ny or Cali. is certainly a good place to start, Mtl not so much.

There is no place in the Habs room for someone who is overly self absorbed like Sheldon Ala Jeremy Roenick (illusions of grandure, no cups). Habs fans count yourselves lucky that Souray is who he is ( chicks dig the howitzer) and welcome a real team guy like Hammy with open arms. There is no way a team can win 16 playoff games with MinusMan logging 25 mins. per...Prediction: Souray doesn't break 15 goals next year and finishes -18.

kazmojo said...

It's obvious what Sheldon was thinking: he got caught up in the hype. His worth was grossly overestimated, esp by the media (traditional and bloggers alike).

He has a role, but as a PP specialist and taking regular shifts as a third pairing against third and fourth liners. His leadership intangibles also boost his worth, but not to the extremes that some had him pegged.

As such, most GM's were smart enough not to offer huge money to him. Most except Bob.

So maybe "What was Bob thinking?" is the better question.

fvincent said...

My mistake, I thought Montreal had an image problem among players and their agents (regardless of how shady they may or may not be). I guess I was worried for nothing.

BTW, it's a good article otherwise. Sorry I didn't say that in my first post.

Bryan said...

the sad thing here is that we all felt like he really, truly loved this team and the city. he may or may not have a big ego but on the ice he has a big heart. remember the fight against mccarty when his wrist was hurt and he got tossed? the intangibles will be missed, yes, but lack of desire to play for the bleu blanc et rouge will not!

Robert L said...

Go easy on "fvincent", folks. I was initially apprehensive about posting the agents number, until I realized that it is in fact accessible to anyone googling Theofanous' name.

I thought as I posted it, that I could be in a for a stern lecturing from Mr. Stubbs should it find its way to him. I had visions of the principal's ruler cracking my knuckles!

I was quite surprised, baffled, and flattered that Dave would sent all these readers (2000 visits - holy cow!)my way.

I'm not sure if we will ever get close to the truth behind what's going on with this story.

I wrote it for the same reasons as you likely all have read it - something is amiss here!

Agents can be as demanding as players sometimes, as they surely have ego's as well. Often negotiating with several teams is a means to gain salary leverage with a team of choice. It is likely that that was the ploy that failed here.

No parties will ever admit to that, you can be sure of that much.

Oddly, I have a White Stripes MP3 in the player as I type this, and it has just played "Hardest Button To Button" and "Truth Doesn't Make A Noise" back to back. It sums it up for me!

However one evaluates Souray's worth on the market, his value to the Montreal Canadiens was the most assured one.

Somebody will be bitting the bullet on this one, and I don't think Sheldon is too happy about how it has all played out.

bobinniagara said...

Greed is the key word here. 22 million was too much and they turn it down. It looks good on them.

Jes GÅ‘lbez said...

The reported 4 year - $22 million deal then fell into the lap of Roman Hamrlik, who happily snapped up the somewhat bloated renumeration.

That's like saying Paris Hilton is only a little stupid.

Souray is just the type of defenseman that is bound to be overpaid, so many GM's are wary to do just that. For all of his PP goodness, Sheldon often gets himself out of position and his skating sucks.

Doogie said...

Souray to Oilers. (Link chosen for comical All-Star getup.) Thoughts?

Robert L said...

Happy he landed with a team I'm confortable cheering for!

I hope he defies his every cynic and duplicates his career year. Perhaps if Gainey could have been as patient as Souray, things may may have worked out.

One report terms Souray as saying that the Canadiens pursued him right up until he signed. It still leaves me with the feeling that something went wacky here.

Lots still doesn't add up.