SUN Hockey Pool

Heatley makes his return to Edmonton

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:32 PM ET

Dany Heatley faced the Edmonton media with a smile Friday.

What’s not to be happy about?

The San Jose Sharks winger eventually got his wish and was traded out of Ottawa, he’s playing on a first-place team, is having another strong campaign, and will probably represent Canada at the Olympics in February.

So what if he snubbed the Edmonton Oilers along the way?

“I think the way things happened, a lot of people took it the wrong way,” Heatley said prior to Friday’s game against the Oilers. “I think the way things went down, it’s too bad it went public and people had to hear about it and that’s the unfortunate thing. I think the biggest problem is that it all went public.”

Friday, Heatley played his first game in Edmonton since refusing to waive his no-movement clause to become part of the Oilers organization this summer.

He got a chilly reception.

“This is a good building, they have good fans here,” Heatley said. “The definition of good fans is that they’re passionate, they care. Whether they’re cheering or doing other things, as long as they’re making noise it’s fun.”

By now the story is well documented.

The two-time 50-goal scorer with the Ottawa Senators requested a trade out of the Nation’s Capital after what he claimed were philosophical differences with head coach Cory Clouston.

A deal was worked out between the Senators and the Oilers, which would have sent Dustin Penner, Andrew Cogliano and Ladislav Smid the other way.

However, despite the Oilers best attempts to convince him otherwise, Heatley would not waive his clause to come to Edmonton, instead opting to wait for a deal more to his liking.

“It’s tough, as a player, that’s why the no-trade clause is there,” said Sharks defenceman Dan Boyle. “As a fan you may not understand it, but anyone who has a job, if you can choose where you can work, that’s a pretty good thing.

“He had his reasons for wanting to go to San Jose and not come here (Edmonton). I can understand I got to choose where I wanted to go. There are different factors involved, but it was blown up a lot bigger than it needed to be.”

Heatley was sent to San Jose for Jonathan Cheechoo, Milan Michalek and a draft pick just prior to the start of the season.

So far things have worked out well for the Calgary native.

Heading into Friday’s game, the Sharks lead the Western Conference standings, while Heatley is fifth in league scoring with 29 points. His 18 goals are second most in the league behind Marian Gaborik.

“It’s been an easy fit, he gets along well with the guys away from the rink, which is important,” Boyle said. “On the ice, the guy knows how to score goals. He’s now on a team where he doesn’t need to be the main guy every night. That’s been a huge factor for him. There’s other players on this team that get some attention where he can just come in and do his thing.

"The bottom line though, is the guy knows how to score goals.”

There’s no telling what Heatley’s impact would have been with the Oilers playing on a line with Ales Hemsky. Dustin Penner’s new-found interest in developing his potential has soften the blow somewhat in Edmonton.

But alongside possibly the league’s best passer in Joe Thornton, the second overall pick in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft is thriving.

“San Jose was a good opportunity for me,” Heatley said. “Getting a chance to play with Joe and Patty (Marleau) is a good thing, and so far, we’ve gotten off to a great start. It’s been a good adjustment so far and it’s been a lot of fun playing for this team. You always want to play well and start well but the way things have gone chemistry-wise with Joe and Patty, it’s been very good.”

Traditionally the Sharks have been one of the strongest clubs in the league during the regular season, yet they’ve faltered in the playoffs.

The hope is that Heatley is able to take them to the next level.

“Dany has been very good, he’s helped our hockey club in a lot of different areas,” said Sharks head coach Todd McLellan. “Offensively, he’s created a pure scoring threat for our hockey club, but we also have him penalty-killing and he’s done a very good job there.

But perhaps the most important thing he’s done for our club is that he’s allowed us as a coaching staff and as teammates to hold him accountable night in and night out, shift after shift and that’s been very important for us and for him and his development with us.”


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