Dany Boy Gets His Way
Dany Heatley, the NHL's Big Baby, got his way. Now we wait to see if Heatley has paved a path in the sandbox for others to follow.
One day last month, Heatley skated on a line with Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau at Team Canada camp, thinking how cool it would be if they were on the same team. Saturday, dealt on demand by Ottawa to San Jose, Big Baby's dream came true. Aw, how sweet ...
Not really. This isn't the first time an All-Star player whined his way off a team, but the Heatley case is a real beaut. Just four years ago he was traded to Ottawa so he could leave Atlanta, where he was charged with vehicular homicide for a car crash that killed Thrashers teammate Dan Snyder. After last season, when Heatley and the once-formidable Sens faced adversity, he showed his appreciation to the community and team that embraced him by declaring he was too good for them.
This isn't the first time a big scorer turned his back on Ottawa. While Heatley pouted out with five years and $33.5 million left on his contract, Alexei Yashin in 2000-01 held out from the Senators with a season left on his. A year later the one-time Hart Trophy candidate was traded to the Islanders for more than equal value: the second overall pick (used to select Jason Spezza) and a future all-world defenseman in Zdeno Chara.
No such luck this time, Sens fans. GM Bryan Murray -- with no leverage and few options because Dany Boy already turned down a deal to Edmonton -- could only get Jonathan Cheechoo, Milan Michalek and a second-round pick. The Sharks tried all summer to unload Cheechoo, a 56-turned-12-goal scorer, and found little interest. Michalek is a strong second-line player capable of 25 goals and 60 points. Neither matches up to Heatley as hockey players.
As people, of course, it's a blowout. But that's not going to do the Senators any good when they are scratching for every point in March to get the eighth seed in the East and Heatley is converting Thornton's feeds for 40 goals. For the second straight year, the Sharks will dominate the regular season. They have seven months before they can prove if the talented infant they just acquired will help make them men in the playoffs.
Two weeks ago, Heatley hilariously blamed his decision to bolt on his revised role under new Ottawa coach Cory Clouston. On Saturday, he Fred Astaired at his final media scrum in the Canadian capital. "There were some personal things that I, uh, thought would be best for everyone involved," Heatley stammered incoherently.
The gutless winger tried one last time to see how many Ottawa people he could bring down with him. A man completely lost in his own b.s., he attempted to stain an entire franchise. Fact: no one in the league bought it. Fact: Heatley just wah-wah-wanted to be on a better team. Turning down Edmonton exposed the Canadian kid as a fraud.
For the last week, FanHouse contacted insiders all over the Senators organization. While the usual hockey urban legends -- a girlfriend issue, a family member too involved -- are in play, everyone we spoke with said Heatley's list of excuses was a farce. "Any of the stuff you might hear or see on the internet is garbage," one of his ex-teammates told FanHouse last night. "The stuff with Cory and his decreased role? A joke. You think he was coming off the first line? Dany didn't have any real problems. He was our problem."
Now Heatley is a Shark. As he makes his case for the Canadian Olympic team and his own stability, he will be a good boy for one season. At the end of it, he could be holding the Stanley Cup. Still, Dany Heatley will not be a winner. Let's also hope he doesn't become a role model for spoiled young NHL stars in search of a way out.