Oh, Dany Boy!

ERIN NICKS -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 11:03 AM ET

Dany Heatley: Fearless winger, possible politician-in-training (kissing babies for photo ops) and worthy of the moniker, "Ranch". Heatley and his baggage -- a virtual Louis Vuitton trunk's worth -- have been welcomed with open arms to the National Capital region.

There is no way to discern the winner of the Heatley-Hossa trade until after Oct. 5. Until then it remains a push -- both players had reasons for departing from their previous teams.

Marian Hossa's removal from the Ottawa lineup wasn't a request, but more of a reality check on the part of the Senators.

Heatley on the other hand, needed a change of scenery. But he may not be aware of how many ways his arrival will alter the face of the Senators' landscape, and only for the better:

- The departure of Hossa gave Senators GM John Muckler the opportunity to lay down the law. Hossa and his agent, Jiri Crha, made a grievous error when they decided to make comparisons to Jarome Iginla. After the Alexei Yashin saga, no one should forget the hardline stance that the Senators will take when cash is involved. Talk is cheap in this town -- and if a player claims that he wants to stay in Ottawa, he may have to prove it by keeping a thinner wallet.

- Regardless of whether he ends up on the first or second line, the pressure is now on Martin Havlat to break the 70-point mark. The ice time will increase for the young Czech, and he will need to meet this new challenge by demonstrating a level of discipline we have not yet seen from him.

- Like Havlat, Heatley is 24 years old but is already evolving as a leader. Heatley was named as an alternate captain during his second year with the Thrashers and his positive influence has been touted throughout the league. And while personal tragedies may be perceived as baggage, the way they are handled can speak volumes about a player's character. The death of Dan Snyder forced Heatley to mature beyond his years -- an asset among a mountain of liability.

- The naysayers of this franchise have always labeled it with an unshakable term: Soft. Changes had been made prior to Heatley's arrival to alter that opinion, with the firing of Jacques Martin and the signing of Dominik Hasek. But it wasn't until Heatley became a Senator that people really began to take notice. Heatley is the epitome of a hard-nosed Canadian player, and his style will likely resonate with his teammates. The changing face of this team will be a difficult pill for the critics to swallow.

Heatley belongs in Ottawa -- he's young and brimming with potential, just the way the Senators like their players to be.

Meanwhile, I'll be waiting for the Ottawa front office to pump out a parody of the Wendy's ranch tooth commercial, complete with a giant incisor sporting a No. 15. We've all got the craving.

FLYIN' WITH BRYAN: Senators fans have called for the trade of Bryan Smolinski for some time, insisting that he is not worth a $ 2.242 million US cheque. But with the departure of Greg De Vries, Smolinski's salary becomes slightly easier to accept in respect to the cap. And whether his critics are willing or not to admit it, Smolinski is a necessary component of the team -- his absence would leave the Senators in a precarious position at centre. Assuming that he will be playing on the second line with Daniel Alfredsson and possibly Martin Havlat, Smolinski will have plenty of opportunity to prove his true worth.

FANTASY TREK: SI writer Don Banks compares fantasy football players to Trekkies in his latest online column. This makes the idea of being a degenerate who simply bets on the games seem much more palatable.

SIDE LINES: Nick Lachey, a.k.a. Mr. Jessica Simpson, wrote a piece for the Cincinnati Enquirer regarding the resignation of Bob Huggins, coach of the University of Cincinnati basketball team. Doesn't this guy realize that the only way he's going to get attention is through his wife? Put her in the bikini and slap a "Go Bearcats!" sign in her hands. Problem solved ... After returning from two knee operations, Washington Redskins linebacker LaVar Arrington says this year will determine if he's washed up. Arrington hopefully isn't through, but the 'Skins offence might be -- Patrick Ramsey's QB rating reads like a 1989 gas price at a horrific 57.9.

erinnicks@yahoo.ca


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