It's all pick-up hockey

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:19 AM ET

Jason Spezza noticed his all-star buddy talking to a couple of reporters and graciously decided he'd offer some insider's knowledge to the story. Factual or not.

"His girlfriend is sick of the station wagon," Spezza said with a chuckle. "She wants a truck."

It's not hard to imagine Dany Heatley having an extra one in his possession very soon.

The Senators winger will be riding higher than anyone when he arrives at this week's talent showcase in Dallas.

TIED FOR LEAD IN GOALS

Heatley's two goals in Saturday's 3-0 win over Boston gives him 30 on the season, leaving him tied for the league lead with Marian Hossa, Teemu Selanne, Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier. He's also now tied for third in the points race, at 65, with Lecavalier and Alex Ovechkin.

But no other player ended the pre-break schedule with quite the bang Heatley did.

Against the Bruins, he was a dominating force. He had 11 shots on goal, including the same number as the entire Boston team (six) in the third period. He would have had his fourth hat trick of the season if not for a spectacular save by Hannu Toivonen off a 2-on-1 in the third period, and he could have very easily had at least four goals on the night.

Just like in his first all-star game.

Yes, the initial month of 2003 was a huge one for the then-Atlanta Thrasher sophomore. That January Heatley turned 22, scored 13 goals and had hat tricks against Philadelphia and New York.

Along with his birthday party, he also had his coming out party, with four goals and an assist as the East all-stars suffered a 6-5 shootout loss to the West.

The Dodge pickup he won as the game's MVP, he sold to a friend.

"It was my second year, and I definitely got a little more notoriety out of that, especially with being in Atlanta," conceded Heatley, who turned 26 yesterday. "I guess it got my name out there."

LIKES LINEMATES

Heatley says he was pretty excited to see the names of his linemates on the dressing board before that game: Jaromir Jagr and Olli Jokinen.

As keepsakes, he still has one of the pucks and a stick, he believes, to go along with the fond memories. But as for his personal accomplishment that day in Sunrise, Fla., well, Heatley has kept it in perspective.

"It's different," he said of the four-goal outburst. "It's a (career) highlight ... it's a fun weekend and a fun game, but to compare it to a real game or the playoffs or anything, it's a different kind of feeling.

"You just realize it's an all-star game. Don't get me wrong, though. It's still fun to score."

When it comes to the skills competition, Heatley prefers the target shooting to the breakaways, which he used to like more. But he still would rather take part in the shootout drill than another contest.

"I really hate the 3-on-0, it's a bad one," he said. "They should probably take that out. It's tough when there's no one going against you."

The East vs. West game is his favourite, however.

"Growing up, I liked to watch the skills competition more than the game. Now that I'm in it, I like the game more," said Heatley. "I like the game. It's not crazy intense, but it's fast and skilled. It's just a lot of fun.

"It's always fun to get to see things you wouldn't see in a regular game. The nice goals ... and it's fun to see the guys and what they bring.

"I'm just going to hang out with the guys and enjoy the week."

Don't be surprised if he picks up another pickup while he's there.


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