Jim Matheson, one of Canada’s more respected NHL writers, made an interesting quote in a piece he published for The Edmonton Journal this morning when talking about the Edmonton Oilers, the Minnesota Wild and a trade the two teams made for Nick Schultz and Tom Gilbert on February 27, 2012. Referencing Nick Schultz, part of Matheson’s headline reads:
“Edmonton wanted shutdown defenceman to be a ‘safety valve’ for prized rookie Justin Schultz.”
So, there’s that. Did Matheson just unintentionally insinuate, or even admit, that the Oilers are guilty of having tampered with Justin Schultz while all of his drama with the Anaheim Ducks was taking place last year? If so, yikes. Way to spill the beans, Jim. Or another way to look at this would be to say to the Oilers, “Way to go ahead and tell a journalist about this fact.” Because, you know, there’s no way on earth a journalist would ever have a chance to share that kind of news with his reading audience at some point, right?
There is no way to know for sure if the Oilers did in fact tamper with Schultz unless the NHL decides to investigate. They have done so before and may very well do so again here, if for no other reason than to get to the bottom of this and ultimately penalize the Oilers if necessary. Either way, this is unfortunate to read about if you are the Oilers because rumors will undoubtedly start swirling about the organization’s lack of class and whatnot–and given how the last five years have gone for the organization on and off the ice, more bad publicity is the last thing they need–even if it turns out they did nothing wrong.
In light of this slip-up, the drama surrounding Schultz and how all of this played out last season will be brought back into focus again, which will be a shame for a kid who’s having a pretty good rookie season and should be focusing on hockey, not rumors. These things happen sometimes, so Schultz will have to weather this storm and answer any and all questions that come his way, but boy will this be an unnecessary distraction for him if it turns out the organization did nothing wrong and this is all just a case of Matheson getting ahead of himself and accidentally misreporting facts.
Looks like the speed bumps are going to just keep on coming for the Oilers this year.