SUN Hockey Pool

Back in the Saddledome

ERIC FRANCIS -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 1:42 PM ET

Growing up in Canyon Meadows a big fan of the Flames, some of Dany Heatley's most cherished hockey memories stem from evenings at the Saddledome.

However, over the course of his career, the 24-year-old has only had the privilege of playing there three times, including a bronze-medal-winning game at the Mac's Midget tourney in 1998 with the Buffaloes.

Two years later, he trumped those midget memories when the 'Dome played host to the NHL Entry Draft that saw him go second overall to Atlanta in front of family and friends.

With the new NHL schedule dictating eastern teams like Heatley's Ottawa Senators will appear here just once every six years -- including tonight -- it's worth taking a look back at the memorable moments he's had in the 'Dome as a pro:

JUNE 24, 2000 -- DRAFT DAY

Negotiating a deal that saw him trim his curly mop-topped hair in exchange for his mother's funding of a new suit, Heatley's was the second name called behind New York Islanders goaltender Rick DiPietro.

Sparking a huge ovation from his hometown crowd when Atlanta GM Don Waddell said simply, "From the WCHA ..." Heatley stood to hug his mom and shook hands with a bevy of well-wishers before hitting the stage to don the Thrashers jersey he'd wear for three years.

"I don't need much," said Heatley, when asked about his imminent windfall.

"I'll probably just get a new car."

APRIL 2, 2002

CALGARY 4, ATLANTA 2

Admitting it was the first thing he looked for the day the NHL schedule was released, Heatley made his inaugural NHL appearance at the 'Dome a night to remember with a goal many consider to be one of the prettiest ever scored in Calgary's barn.

Undressing Bob Boughner with the ol' outside-in dangle, he gave Roman Turek a head fake before roofing his 23rd goal of the year.

"Oh ya -- I remember that one," said Heatley, who went on to win the Calder Trophy and was soon thereafter invited to play for Team Canada at the Worlds.

"It was on the highlights quite a few times back then."

Heatley also drew two penalties, added an assist, knocked Denis Gauthier from the game with a big hit and dove to stop Flames winger Blake Sloan from converting a breakaway. Despite being the best player on the ice, the smattering of applause he received earlier in the night turned to a chorus of boos when he temporarily denied Jarome Iginla in his quest to score 50 by hauling him down as he attempted to convert an easy empty-net goal.

"Every time I looked up there were people in the crowd I knew, which was great," said Heatley after the game.

"Even if I didn't score, the bottom line is I'm still here and it's the NHL."

FEB. 10, 2004

CALGARY 5, ATLANTA 2

Two weeks after making an emotional return to the NHL following four months of rehab stemming from the car crash that killed teammate Dan Snyder, Heatley's 'Dome date saw him collect one assist. However, the story of the night revolved around the presence of Graham and LuAnn Snyder who traveled from Ontario to sit with Karin and Murray Heatley and offer support.

"There's an important message and we want to deliver it," said Graham before the game. "The main message is we all make mistakes and the important thing is to treat people the way we'd want people to treat us in the same circumstances."


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