Posts Tagged ‘Sheldon Souray’

October 6th, 2010

Sheldon Souray to Hershey

I couldn’t quite believe the news either when I first read it today, but it’s official: former Edmonton Oilers defenseman and salary cap casualty Sheldon Souray is going to be setting up shop with Washington’s AHL affiliate, the Hershey Bears.

Before anybody gets to thinking that this move might mean that Souray could eventually find his way to Washington, you can forget it — TSN’s Bob McKenzie has already poured a bucket of cold water on the idea.  Then again, for the locals who are used to life with George McPhee as general manager, we know there isn’t any way that the Caps would sacrifice almost $3 million in cap space and better than $2 million in salary — after splitting the total with Edmonton — it would take to get him onto the roster.

In terms of talent, Hershey doesn’t need Souray.  The Bears have been to the Calder Cup Finals three times in the last four years, winning twice, including 2010.  Last season on the way to the championship, the Bears won 60 games, reeled off a 12-game winning streak and a 24-game home win streak.  And while the Bears have lost a number of faces from that team because they’ve been promoted to Washington, John Carlson and Karl Alzner most prominently, the rest of the team is literally loaded with talent from years of smart drafting and developing.

After taking a trip of my own to Hershey last season, it’s clear this is a team that has an identity all its own over and above any affiliate agreement it might have with an NHL franchise.  One walk through the locker room after the game I saw last Spring pretty much convinced me of that, and you’d think the same way too after looking at decades of team photos that cover the walls of the bowels of the Giant Center in Hershey. 

What this move is about is business. The Bears are indirectly owned by the Hershey Trust, and everyone in town knows that the team is operated to return a profit to its parent company and the trust.  Coming off a championship season, Souray will help put people in the seats early in the season.  Better still for Edmonton, putting him here in the U.S. with the AHL affiliate of one of the top teams in hockey means that Souray is going to have people watching his performance very closely — something that could very well help him get moved all the quicker if some team can clear the cap space.

Tim Leone, along with John Walton one of the authorities on Bears hockey, indicates that Josh Godfrey has been sent down to South Carolina in the ECHL to make room for Souray, while also reporting that the team will be picking up a small portion of his AHL salary.  As for Souray, he’ll wear #7 and is expected to be at practice on Friday.  I think I might have to take a trip up there and soon.