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.