When we last left the Edmonton Oilers and Los Angeles Kings they had just completed the Ryan Smyth trade, but one hangup from the deal was the discovery that Colin Fraser had a fracture in his foot, along with a cyst and would need surgery that would put him out of action for four months.
Understandably, the Kings weren't happy that they were getting back damaged goods. An earlier proposal of the deal that included Gilbert Brule instead of Fraser went sour when it was learned Brule hadn't been cleared yet for physical contact after suffering two concussions. Kings GM Dean Lombardi had planned to buyout Brule if that deal had gone through, but under the current NHL CBA injured players cannot be bought out. With Fraser, the Kings were getting back a player they had planned to have as part of their lineup going forward.
Lombardi told the Los Angeles Times last month that he wanted to work things out with the Oilers regarding the Fraser deal instead of voiding it. Oilers GM Steve Tambellini stood by the deal and said the Kings knew what they were getting in Fraser and his medical history.
Working things out has now jumped up a notch. Lombardi sounded off on the Fraser situation to Helene Elliott of the Times saying the team was going to explore legal options to rectify things and that Fraser's cyst, along with a blood disorder was not disclosed to them when the trade was consummated. Lombardi claims that he was told Fraser was close to being fully recovered from the foot injury at the time of the deal.
Then there's the money quote from Lombardi, one of the few NHL general managers who's golden with words:
"The bottom line for me, I would have rather invested my money with Bernie Madoff than invest in Edmonton's word."
So Edmonton's gone and pissed off another NHL GM four years after the Brian Burke/Kevin Lowe/Dustin Penner saga.
Sadly, this likely won't devolve into a war of words between Lombardi and Tambellini. The NHL threatened Burke and Lowe with fines in 2007 and that quickly put an end to their back-and-forth. This will be worked out behind the scenes with the NHL and their lawyers playing referee.
But really, it's summer time. Free Agent Frenzy is over and we're now on #ToddWhiteWatch. Please, NHL, let's let Tambellini respond and have it turn into a hockey version of Yo Momma.
UPDATE: No public war of words as the Oilers won't be commenting publicly on the matter.
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