Now that Dany Heatley and his San Jose Sharks have been eliminated from this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs, it’s become vogue around the nation’s capital to grab a shovel and heap excrement on the two-time 50 goal scorer. And after the manner in which Dany left town, who could blame us? Most Senators fans would need some aggressive form of electroshock therapy to refrain from using each and every opportunity to poke fun at Heatley’s expense.
The latest trend though is that many seem to be revisiting the Heatley trade itself and are questioning whether or not the Senators actually won the trade. In an entertaining read over at Senators Extra, James Gordon came to the conclusion that maybe this trade wasn’t the clear San Jose victory we once thought it was.
Rather then pen some new article that looks at the Heatley trade now, let’s revisit what I wrote on the day that Dany Heatley’s trade request was leaked to TSN. The article entitled Oh Dany Boy was published on June 9th, 2009 and I’ve posted it again below but with footnotes.
It’s safe to say that Greg Carvel’s job just got a tad more difficult. He’ll have to start drawing up plays on his power play whiteboard other than a backdoor pass to Dany Heatley.1
When Bruce Garrioch reported that Bryan Murray will not trade Spezza, I wasn’t quite sure of the timing – Why come out and make that statement then?
I suppose we now know the answer. In case you haven’t heard, TSN has confirmed that the 28-year old who signed a six-year, $45 million contract extension with the team in October of 2007 – that includes a no-movement clause – informed the team a week ago of his desire to play hockey elsewhere.
While news of Heatley’s request may come as a surprise to some of you, this moment was pre-ordained. Let’s follow this retroactive timeline from earlier in the season to see how this situation unfolded.
On Tuesday, December 16th, 2008, Dany was asked by a reporter how he can account for the problems facing the team. Here’s his reponse:
“We weren’t good enough,” said Heatley. “You guys are going to break down, however you break it down. You come up with something new every day. The bottom line is we’re not getting wins.” ~ Dany Heatley, The Ottawa Sun
At the time, I wrote this:
While I’m sure Dany Heatley was referring to the beat writers finding their own suggestions for what’s wrong, Don Brennan might have taken Heatley a little too literally. (As an aside, has there ever been a 50 goal guy who plays in a Canadian market who’s less quotable than Heatley? He’s been here for a few years now and the guy’s been quoted less than Alexei Kaigorodov. And more importantly Dany, what the fuck were you thinking? You’ve got the perfect gig. You ride shotgun to the biggest lightning rod for criticism in Spezza.2 Why on earth would you draw attention and criticism towards yourself from the fans and the guys at the Sun? You already know how this is going to end: First your shot at the media, then they’ll be writing about your one-dimensional offensive game, then the fans will discuss a potential trade, then fans will discuss how noticeable your beer belly was when they saw you at a local establishment, and then we’ll ride you out of town. And then Bruce Garrioch will take credit. C’est la vie.) ~ The 6th Sens
There’s a saying in Ottawa. If you want to survive criticism as a player in Ottawa, follow these three steps: One, buy the media some pizza. Two, take on massive responsibilities with the local charities.3 Three, never, ever, call out the local writers regardless of how frustrated or right you think you are.
Unfortunately, Dany must have missed that lecture when the organization annually informs the players on public and media relations. Within hours of Heatley’s comment, one journalist made this remark:
Dany Heatley’s best shots of the night came after, not during, the Senators embarrassing 4-1 loss to the Atlanta Thrashers at Scotiabank Place Tuesday. They were directed at the media. On an evening when the Senators highest paid player did little else other than take an undisciplined double minor and misconduct with just under four minutes to go and feint hope still alive, Heatley was in a surly mood during a post-game scrum “You guys are going to break it down how you have to break it down,” Heatley said. “But the bottom line is we’re not getting wins. It’s in the room. We’ve got to find a way to do that.” A little later, he told reporters “you guys come up with some thing new every day,” when asked for answers. Yeah, we come up with something new every day, Dany boy. It’d be nice if you and your team could, too. Like, maybe a little effort? Maybe some goals? Maybe doing what you’re paid to do, too?4 ~ Don Brennan, Off the Posts
If there’s a real lesson to learn here, it’s that the media in Ottawa never forget when they’ve been publicly slighted and will use any opportunity to heave bags of excrement at a player. Remember the infamous comments made by Cory Clouston regarding Heatley’s play when he first took over?
“Sometimes with a guy like (Heatley) it’s a little bit of confidence. He’s trying to do too much,” and coach Cory Clouston said. “It goes back to the less is more sometimes. It’s not from a lack of effort and it may appear that way sometimes. He’s trying to do too much. He’s trying to beat guys 1-on-1 when maybe it’s not the right time to do it. He’s not trusting his shot at times and he’s not driving the net. Sometimes when you don’t have the confidence and you are struggling a little bit (it happens). Instead of looking like you’re working hard, you almost look like you are flat-footed at times.”
Well, Dany remembers and for the second time in his young career, he’s ready to up and leave when the going gets tough. Only this time, he’s not going to have the public’s support. It’s ironic, when the heat is on, Dany isn’t.5
Surprisingly, I’m not mad. Don’t get me wrong, Heatley may come off as a one-dimensional, selfish douchebag but it doesn’t matter. From an organizational standpoint, this is the best thing to happen to the franchise since Alexei Yashin was dealt and the timing of Heatley’s request couldn’t be better.
I’ve already outlined the reasons why trading Dany Heatley before Jason Spezza makes sense.
While a Spezza trade would bring in some assets and cap flexibility, I think it’s the wrong play. Instead, I’d rather see the team approach Dany Heatley about waiving his NTC. I know, on the surface, the notion of trading the team’s best goal scorer might not be the smartest idea. Especially since I was criticizing the Senators lack of secondary scoring. However, unlike Spezza, you would net a better return because of Heatley’s name value and past production. A perfect trading partner could be LA because with Frolov’s impending FA status, they’ll need a winger to compliment Kopitar. If Ottawa could use Heatley and a defenseman to net a package including Oscar Moller6, a pick and a prospect, would you do it? What if I told you that the team could reallocate Heatley’s $7.5M salary on one or two players? What if I told you that the last time a player scored 50 goals and won a Stanley Cup in the same season was in the pre-lockout 1996 Colorado Avalanche team? ~ The 6th Sens
That being said, Dany Heatley’s entering into the second year of a 6-year $45M deal. He’s still young and he is still in the prime years of his career. It’s the ideal time to parlay him into assets since he still has a lot of value. Frankly, I think we’ve been blessed by the hockey gods. Imagine how one-dimensional and slow Heatley will be by the time his contract ends at the age of 35?7
So here we sit, in a team defining moment. With Heatley’s trade, Bryan Murray and management can’t and will not replace a 50-goal scorer. It’s simply not going to happen. Perhaps conveniently, management may not feel pressured to sell the status quo to the public. With Heatley, this team was expected to compete for a low playoff seed in the Eastern Conference. Without him, they’ll be fortunate to stay in that same position. Maybe now, they won’t feel compelled to rush Erik Karlsson, maybe now, they can admit that the best thing to do is to retool.8
Simply because Heatley has asked Bryan Murray for a trade doesn’t mean that he’ll green light any deal. His NTC will allow him to control his destiny and thereby limit some of Murray’s prospective trade partners. (Sorry Edmonton!9) If Heatley’s getting moved, I’d imagine he’d want to live in an area where he can remain anonymous in a warm location. If I’m Bryan Murray, I’m picking up the phone and offering Heatley to LA for Teubert, Moller and the 5th overall pick. If they take it, I’m flipping the 5th and Ottawa’s 9th to the Isles for the 1st overall and San Jose’s 26th overall pick that Murray had previously dealt for Comrie and Campoli.
If anything, the next few days will be interesting but not because we’ll hear Dany Heatley’s reasoning. I’d prefer to hear from Jason Spezza, the man who’s most directly affected by Heatley’s trade request. Will he be pissed that his trigger man wants out? Will it force him to become a more complete player that we all hope he can be?10 Or will he want out as well?
According to Bruce Garrioch,Dany Heatley may have played his last game in Senators uniform.
Two league sources confirmed to Sun Media this morning that Heatley has informed Ottawa GM Bryan Murray he’d like to be dealt. It’s believed Heatley has a rocky relationship with coach Cory Clouston and would like to be moved so that he can get more of an opportunity to play his style of game.
Funny, I always thought Dany Heatley’s game was a backswing and a follow through.11 It’s hard to believe that this style didn’t fit into Cory Clouston’s scheme.
1 Almost two Years later, the unthinkable happened. Greg Carvel was let go by the organization.
2 The Heatley trade request was the best thing to ever happen to Spezza.
3 The Wade Redden Rule.
4 Wish I could have seen the look on Brennan’s face when Heatley went off on the media. I imagine it probably looked somewhat like this:
5 This statement probably irked some international hockey fans in Belarus who believe that they play in meaningful hockey games.
6 At the time, I had a mancrush for Moller and any other prospect affiliated with the Los Angeles Kings – an organization that was characterized by a deep and talented farm system. I was under the heavy influence of prospect porn. I couldn’t help it. Since writing this article, Moller’s development has stagnated in Los Angeles and he has reportedly signed a contract with Skelleftea AIK.
7 By the time Heatley’s 35? Who knew he’d look this lethargic by the age of 30.
8 This would have been the opportune time to sell fans on the concept of a rebuild. Instead of insisting upon talented but injury-prone Michalek, the organization should have insisted upon acquiring some of San Jose’s younger, less established players. Alas, the Senators took the cut-and-paste approach and were hamstrung into taken on Jonathan Cheechoo to accomodate the trade with San Jose.
9 Poor Edmonton. Who didn’t see that coming?
10 Despite what people like Eklund or Damien Cox write, this is happening. Apparently only those who cover the Ottawa Senators are the ones who are aware of it.
11 Somehow I neglected to Heatley’s propensity for waiving his stick to call for passes. Shame on me. Seriously though, Ottawa was no longer talented enough to carry Dany Heatley on it. The problem with Heatley is that he’s an incredibly accurate shooter who benefits greatly from favorable starting positions (Ozone%) and consistently high shooting percentages. And as Mike Babcock would tell you, puck possession is key to team success in the NHL and in my opinion, Heatley doesn’t drive puck possession or do much of anything else. So the problem is that if he’s not scoring frequently, he’s not only expensive but he’s not contributing in other facets of the game.