Dany taking some heat

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:14 AM ET

So, it's a question worth asking if for no other reason than it illustrates the intricate love-hate relationship Senators fans have with the club's best players:

Were there Senators fans out there actually rooting against Canada to win the gold medal at the world championship because, in some twisted logic, they didn't want Senators Dany Heatley or Jason Spezza to have success?

Judging by the comments posted by some fans on the Sun's Off The Posts hockey blog, some were seriously ticked seeing Heatley regain his scoring touch after being blanked in the Pittsburgh Penguins' sweep of the Senators in the opening round. Both Heatley and Spezza were held to just one assist apiece in the loss to the Penguins.

(The Senators' loss to the Penguins isn't looking quite as bad now, you have to admit, after seeing the Penguins blast both the New York Rangers and the Philadelphia Flyers in subsequent rounds.)

Typical of the sentiment felt by some Senators fans regarding Heatley's 12 goals in nine games at the worlds, a Canadian record for the tournament: "As a SENS fan it pisses me off that Heatley is finding his scoring touch now. Where was the effort during the play-offs? Maybe his wallet was too heavy and it was slowing him down," commented one fan on Off The Posts.

Heatley was named the tournament MVP and returned to Ottawa yesterday after Team Canada blew a 4-2 lead and lost 5-4 in overtime to Russia, his silver medal tucked into the black bag slung over his shoulder.

He said yesterday he didn't pay attention to what was being said in the wake of the loss to the Penguins and then regaining his scoring touch at the world championship.

"I've learned not to really read what you guys are writing or what people are saying. You get hot and cold sometimes," he said. "I don't know. After the season I had 10 days off, went home and really felt kind of rejuvenated going back to Halifax. I started having a little bit of fun again. It was great to be around those guys and I really had a great time for three weeks."

SPEZZA DEMOTED

Spezza got slapped down by the Team Canada coaching staff and was demoted to the fourth line, another lesson that it's just not about points if you're going to be a player on the world stage. That's a step the Senators couldn't or wouldn't take, but hopefully the message is getting through.

Senators fans are certainly entitled to be ticked about the lack of production from Spezza and Heatley in Daniel Alfredsson's absence against the Penguins. But wouldn't things be a lot worse today from a Senators standpoint if Heatley had gone to the world championship and continued his scoring funk?

He ripped it up at the worlds and has that to build on going into next season, the first of his new six-year deal which will see him pull down $10 million (all terms US) next season (another aside: Heatley and Spezza will make a combined $18 million in 2008-09, or a third of the Senators' payroll).

Playing with Team Canada allowed Heatley to finish his season on an upswing.

"That's what a lot of the guys were talking about. If you're playing in the world championships, it means you didn't make the playoffs or you lost early. Everyone is disappointed after a season like that," he said. "Once we got there and got together with all the new guys and had some fun for three weeks, it was a great experience."

The world championship afforded Heatley the opportunity to re-establish himself as one of the premier finishers in the game, and that can't be anything but a good thing for the Senators.


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