Try, try, try, try again

TERRY JONES

, Last Updated: 7:49 AM ET

The question had gone unanswered from Canada Day through to the Fourth of July.

Would Steve Tambellini continue to try to poison his own pond by attempting to acquire that confirmed cancer, certified coach killer, validated jerk and authenticated me-me-me man Dany Heatley?

It seemed like forever that a significant percentage of the fan base had waited for the new Oilers GM to step in front of a bank of TV cameras, microphones and poised pens to convince them that he's going to say "stop right now" instead of continuing to listen to "I'll give you my answer in the morning."

Finally at 3:45 p.m. yesterday, with the sky spitting, Tambellini, careful not to create a sensational sound bite, essentially said that, no, he wasn't giving up on the idea of Heatley becoming an Oiler just because the two-time 50-goal scorer was having a little trouble with commitment.

"We're trying to better our hockey club" said Tambellini.

"I've had him twice as a Team Canada manager. He's a good person.

"Any type of player movement doesn't happen overnight. It's a big decision."

Tambellini says that it's not a matter of Heatley having twice said no to the Oilers on both the first (false) deadline and the real one which followed 24 hours later.

"They haven't made a decision yet. Basically there's a difference there. They haven't made their decision yet. We understand that."

The only negative he'd utter was in regards to the names of Andrew Cogliano, Ladislav Smid and Dustin Penner having been made public as part of the deal.

"It's not fair to them. I'm not happy about that."

Tambellini has definitely come out of all of this wearing the white hat.

He gets the highest of marks for hiring the combination of Pat Quinn and Tom Renney to coach the club. He did a decent job dealing with his first trade deadline. He didn't do anything dumb at the draft. He hit the home run in signing goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin on the first day of free agency. And he's also deserving of high praise for putting together a trade of otherwise impossible-to-trade Dustin Penner, with you-have-to-give-up-something-to-get-something young talents Andrew Cogliano and Ladislav Smid for a proven 40-50 goal scorer.

Even recognizing Heatley's faults, which include most areas of the game not directly associated with shooting the puck, that was all balanced off by getting rid of Penner.

But after all of this ...

Players have been booed out of town before but not booed into town unless they were Chris Pronger, Mike Comrie and Jason Arnott returning with new teams.

Heatley, it seems, figured asking to be traded would result in having free-agent-like options to pick between playing in New York or L.A.

The Rangers, who took back hockey low-life Sean Avery, decided they'd rather take a chance on the oft-injured Marian Gaborik than give up much for the likes of Heatley.

And as for Los Angeles, Kings assistant GM Ron Hextall wasn't shy about saying why they didn't want him.

"Look at this player's past," said Hextall. "I'm going to spell it out as nicely as I can. He was in Atlanta, had an unfortunate (automobile) accident there and asked to be traded. OK, given the circumstances -- there was a young man killed -- I can live with that.

"He goes to Ottawa. He's on a pretty good team. They go to the finals. He signs a big contract. Bang. All of a sudden now he's got to be traded again. 'Not only do I have to be traded, I have a no-trade clause. I want to pick where I'm going to go.' Well, there are some issues there.

"He had his problems with his coach in Atlanta. My understanding is that he had problems with Craig Hartsburg at the start of last year in Ottawa. And he had problems with Cory Clouston.

"Three coaches he's had a problem with. That raises huge red flags for us."

There can't possibly be a happily ever after with Dany Heatley here.

TERRY.JONES@SUNMEDIA.CA


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