Heatley's reached star status

CHRIS STEVENSON

, Last Updated: 9:02 AM ET

Being compared to Jaromir Jagr is a double-edged sword.

The big Rangers forward can be all that's good and great in this game or he can be an enigmatic underachiever.

But when Leafs coach Paul Maurice compared Senators winger Dany Heatley to Jagr yesterday, it was only to say that Heatley has ascended to the level of the league's most dangerous and elite attackers.

"It's just range more than anything else," said Maurice. "It's that Jagr, 6-foot-5-ish or whatever he is ... any guy who handles the puck four feet on either side of his hips makes him dangerous.

"Because (Heatley) can do it with speed, you give him three more feet. What's the worse thing you can do? Give him three more feet. But you have to just because of the talent and you need (the space) to recover from his moves.

"He's a special player and, I don't know, maybe we would all like to think the prototypical Canadian, big, strong, fast with great hands and probably if he was so inclined, he could fight a little, too. A hell of a player."

When Heatley was traded here for Marian Hossa a couple of years ago, it was conceded Hossa was the more complete player.

Now?

Heatley has closed, if not eliminated, the gap.

HEAR AND THERE: After the way Senators G Ray "Rayzor" Emery and Leafs G Andrew "Rayzor" Raycroft played in the first period last night, they might want to sign up Gillette or somebody to sponsor the Battle of Ontario. The Rayzors were sharp ... On the Maple Leafs website yesterday, GM John Ferguson, Jr., opined in his blog that "there are whispers that my role here at Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment should be curtailed to being the wheel man for the office Tim Horton's run." Some fans might have thought, "'bout time." Turns out they put columnist Mike Ulmer's entry under JFJ's name. Oops ...

REVELATIONS: After getting robbed three times by Emery, Leaf F Alexei Ponikarovsky finally decided to pass. Leafs captain Mats Sundin scored ... Emery had some edge in the second period, too, knocking off Sundin's helmet with a couple of jabs of the blocker to the back of his head ... You have to admire Leaf Nation. It seemed like there were more of them than ever at The Bank last night and every one was wearing a Leafs sweater. They make Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson the only captain who gets booed in his own rink.

SUPER PICKS: Senators enforcer Brian McGrattan is the club's resident NFL guru and he's picking the Chicago Bears in today's game. "I'm not a big Peyton Manning fan. He's a choker," McGrattan said of the Colts quarterback. "Everybody has been too hard on (Chicago QB) Rex Grossman. I think he's a good QB and he's going to have a good game. Chicago is my pick." Other opinions: Senators D Chris Phillips likes the Colts. "I'd like to see Manning win," he said. Sundin: "Chicago, just because it's been a while for them and they're one of the traditional franchises. I'd be fun to see them win." Jason Spezza: "Indy because of the way Manning played in the last game. It seems like maybe it's destiny for them ... and (McGrattan) picked Chicago and there's no way I'm cheering for the same team."

THE BUZZ: The Brian Kilrea Leadership Bursary was announced last night, giving out $3,000 a year to a student in Algonquin College's sports business management program. Kilrea would have liked to give some bursaries to his players yesterday if by "bursary" you mean "kick in the butt." ... The Leafs are impressive in person with the tempo of the game they are playing now and how much they've tightened up on defence. Raycroft wasn't forced into having to make a lot of lateral saves because the middle of the ice was pretty much nailed shut.

PARTING SHOT: The Sun's Don Brennan was getting a lot of mileage out of this joke (originally put forth by 67's associate coach Tim Higgins) at the morning skate yesterday: "Hey did you hear about that actress who stabbed herself to death? Reese ... Reese..."

"Witherspoon?" answers the helpful victim.

"No," said Brennan, "with her knife."

Senators D Wade Redden and Toronto's Brendan Bell each jumped in with both feet on that one, but wily Senators coach Bryan Murray wasn't biting.


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