Dany Heatley wants out of Ottawa and so far he hasn’t said exactly why.
I am a bit surprised that the information was not forthcoming when the news was leaked to the media. I would bet a million bucks it didn’t come from the team, so Dany or his agent JP Barry may well have been the ones to vault this from a whisper to a scream.
How it came out is irrelevant now. It is out. The reasons why Heatley doesn’t want to remain in Ottawa are also largely irrelevant. There will be the automatic guesses. Does he not like the City/GM/Coach/System/Team-mates/Eastern Canada/Division/Conference? Is it personal like his last trade demand from Atlanta where he just needed a fresh start after that horrible accident which claimed the life of his friend and team-mate? Maybe this time he wants to escape the constant reminders of a relationship gone sour or the amount of pollen in the air here affects his allergies. What ever the reason, he is not the first player in NHL history to request a trade and won’t be the last. The location where he collects his 8 million dollars this year is really his only question. Dany will be playing somewhere and somebody is going to give him 8 million bucks to do it.
Will the fences be mended and he will remain a Senator? Will a trade happen? What if a trade doesn’t happen but he still wants one? Does he hold out? Does he play unhappily and wait for a trade or a change of heart? Will the Senators get fair value for a 50 goal scorer? Will the teams that want him be able to absorb his substantial contract? Will the teams which can, be places Dany wants to go? Will this damage his reputation? Will it damage the reputation of the Senators? Will this go away quietly?
I have guesses like everyone else for the first 10 questions. I feel very confident that the answer to the 11th is NO. In a Canadian market that is hockey mad, this will not be a quiet process.
There will be talk shows and columns in the newspapers. Angry words from fans towards Heatley and the Senators and both. There will be supposition, there will be accusations, there will be unspoken innuendo about the “real” reasons. There will be unsubstantiated calls to talk shows about too many spottings in downtown bars and unsubstantiated calls about how he was treated by the club or the manager or the coach. One thing I have discovered over years of seeing these things happen. You never really ever find out what the tipping point was unless the player himself tells you in a moment of pure honesty. He may tell his wife or agent but he is never going to tell a fan or a member of the media. In fact he may never tell the Senators. There is no law that says he has to. He has the right to request a trade and they have the right to try and make one or not. If they choose not, then Heatley has a decision to make. Play or hold out. History has shown that ultimately players always win these things.
Alexei Yashin didn’t get his money from Ottawa and a court ruled the team and the NHL were correct in the interpretation of his playing contract. But he did end up getting 90 million dollars in Long Island. In the end he did get out of Ottawa and did get his fortune, so despite losing the court case, did Yashin really lose?
And what of tarnished reputations. There will be some who believe Dany is behaving like a selfish egomaniac and puts himself before the team too often. Even if that were true, Ray Emery’s apparent soon to be re-entry into the NHL proves again that a tarnished reputation is of no consequence in the NHL if your skill level is high enough and Heatley’s is certainly high enough.
There will be some who believe the club should have been more perceptive to Dany’s needs, wants and desires. After all there aren’t very many 50 goal scorers in hockey so making sure yours is happy should be important. Will the Senators, Bryan Murray and Corey Clouston’s reputations be tarnished because some will believe better care should have been taken to keep a star player happy? I doubt it. In pro sports today it is almost expected there will be a certain amount of drama involved with high level players at high level salaries.
There are 2 things I know for sure.
#1-This won’t be is a quiet summer in Hockey Country.
#2-It will mean less talk about Mats Sundin’s hockey future.
See you at the rink.