So you can add Dany Heatley to the bunch crashing the NHL's Stanley Cup party.
They were ready to hand out the Cup last night, but the revelation the Senators winger has asked GM Bryan Murray to trade him is yet another story overshadowing what should be the NHL's showcase event, at least here in the Ottawa.
The Phoenix Coyotes' bankruptcy case was gearing up again yesterday, Brent Sutter announced he was leaving the New Jersey Devils for "family reasons" (I guess going to work at some point for his brother in Calgary is a "family reason"). Jacques Martin left the Florida Panthers to be introduced as the coach of the Montreal Canadiens ... the news outside Detroit and Pittsburgh has certainly been bigger and juicier than the latest X-ray of Pavel Datsyuk's foot.
These playoffs have been one of the best in recent memory.
The sideshows off the ice have been even better.
Here in Ottawa, it doesn't get more interesting than the club's former 50-goal scorer asking for a trade.
The Heatley camp apparently expressed its unhappiness with Heatley's situation here about a week ago, the second time in as many NHL stops Heatley has asked for a change in scenery.
Speculation about Heatley's unhappiness should focus on his relationship with rookie coach Cory Clouston, who replaced Craig Hartsburg, who was fired early in February. Clouston's intensity, demand for work in practice and accountability in games made the Senators; environment less comfortable for some than it had been under Hartsburg.
Clouston's arrival and his no-nonsense approach also coincided with a reversal in the Senators' fortunes on the ice. The Senators were 19-11-4 under Clouston to finish the season.
Clouston was surprisingly blunt in his evaluation of Heatley's play shortly after the coach's arrival:
"(Heatley's) got a ways to go. He's learning a new system, it's a lot more of a pressure system. He's got to move his feet a little more. But he's getting there, he's getting close.
"My assessment might be different than other people's. He's not where we want him to be and neither is the whole team in general. He's not different. Some guys take a little bit longer. He's obviously not used to a pressure game and being in exact spots where we want him to be. Sometimes it may look like he's not skating when actually he's trying to think a little more rather than react," said Clouston.
Nobody likes criticism, but Heatley has always displayed a particulary thin skin when anything close to a disparaging word was spoken about his play.
Both sides did their expected spinning the day after Clouston's remarks, sang Kumbaya and some in the media dismissed the idea of a rift.
Heatley's desire to get out of here would seem to validate speculation on their relationship, but you want to give a guy the benefit of the doubt.
Maybe Heatley has just outgrown Ottawa and wants a change, maybe to a more knowledgable hockey market where fans and media just don't evaluate players' performance on how many goals they score -- though that would seem to be the reason why some players get more money than others.
So, where to from here?
Heatley is a gifted goal-scorer and has lots of value. Getting equal value is always difficult in these "trade me" situations, but there are teams out there -- the Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles Kings, St. Louis Blues, Minnesota Wild and Vancouver Canucks -- who could have the cap space and a need for a player like Heatley and some interesting players to give up in return. The Canucks could lose the Sedin twins and if they're going to keep goaltender Roberto Luongo past next season, they need to replenish their offence and continue to be perceived as a contender.
Another thing: Is it safe to assume Heatley's no-movement clause is irrelevant now? (A guy wouldn't ask for a trade and then veto a destination he didn't like, would he? Could he?)
The bottom line: Rather than looking at this news as a negative for the Senators, it can be seen as an opportunity, a chance to positively change the nucleus of the Senators, a nucleus that has been backsliding since getting to the Stanley Cup final a couple of years ago.
THE HEATLEY LINE
-POSITION: Left Wing
-BORN: Freiburg, Germany
-DRAFTED: 2nd overall by Atlanta in 2000
-TRADED: From the Thrashers to the Senators in 2005 -- for Marian Hossa and Greg de Vries
-STATS: Best season was 2006-07 when he had 50 goals and 55 assists ... His 50-goal season in 2005-06 was the first time a Senators player had reached that plateau ... Was inconsistent this season, with 39 goals and 33 assists -- with his plus-minus slipping from +33 to -11.