Face-to-face negotiations have resolved many seemingly intractable issues in the course of history, and Dany Heatley, not his agent, should emerge from his cocoon of silence and do the mature, sensible thing: Meet with Bryan Murray and, if necessary, Cory Clouston to see if an accommodation can be reached to keep the ace scorer an Ottawa Senator.
GM Murray wants it.
Coach Clouston wants it.
Murray told me yesterday he plans to try exactly that process, beginning by meeting with Heatley's agent last night at the NHL draft sessions in Montreal. It would be preferable if Heatley could speak for himself. The way the rest of us do in the real world.
If after such talks -- either with the agent, Heatley, or both together -- Heatley remains intransigent, then fine, bid him farewell.
But for him not to give Murray and Clouston the opportunity to possibly resolve that which makes him no longer want to be part of the team that believed in him, respected him, paid him hugely, is immature and silly.
Heatley should be wise enough to realize there is no guarantee he'll be happier and more effective on another team. But what is known is that he had it pretty good here. He was in the rabid hockey culture he wanted after Atlanta, and was a fan favourite. He was privileged to have talent around him that served his special gift.
Heatley, scoring proud, has a right to be disappointed, even puzzled, over what has been leaked from him through his agent: Reduced ice time under Clouston, demotion to the second unit on the power play.
Clouston would not have made these moves without what he felt were sound "team" reasons and one, surely, would have to assume Heatley was informed by the coach the reasons why. It's not as if he was demoted to the fourth line.
Heatley showed strong character in his rebound from one of the worst things that can happen to an individual: His complicity in the motor vehicle accident that killed one of his Atlanta team-mates.
SHOW SOME CHARACTER
It's now incumbent upon him to show his character by giving the Senators and their fans the respect they deserve by personally meeting with Murray and/or Clouston privately to air his grievances for the possibility of resolution. Unless something unacceptably horrid happened we don't know -- highly doubtful -- it's the least he can do.
Heatley told Murray after the season he was upset with his ice time under Clouston, but gave no indication he planned to bolt. Murray suggested he meet with Clouston during the summer and Heatley didn't dismiss the idea. And then -- boom -- weeks later, no consultation with Murray or Clouston, Heatley tells the club through his agent he wants nothing more to do with the Senators.
Murray's had a few phone conversations with the agent since then. "He's pretty adamant" that Heatley still wants out. "My biggest disappointment in all of this is that they wanted a no-trade, no-move clause in his contract, and they got it."
Dany Heatley can do what he wants. Right or wrong. Selfishly, egotistically, stupidly, whatever. Life is choices. If you want to go and jump off a high bridge, that's your decision. If you want to put your hand on a hot burner, go ahead.
Heatley's not the first disgruntled star athlete to demand a trade within a contract. Quarterback Jay Cutler, ex of the Denver Broncos, comes to recent mind. Nor will Heatley be the last. It's not a criminal offence.
In the non-sports world, if you're unhappy in your job -- and you might even be a star employee -- you have the right to tell the boss you're quitting to go to another job, maybe even a competitor. If you're smart, though, if you're fair, you'll give your boss a chance to hear you out for the purpose of possibly correcting what's caused your discontent.
Dany Heatley owes it to the Senators, and himself, to meet with Murray and Clouston to see if his "problems" can be rectified. Heatley should know the reason the fans are so angry with him is because he's so good. And good for their team. If he was a relative nobody, they wouldn't give a damn.
He should also know that if he changed his mind and came back, it wouldn't be long before these very fans forgave him. People are forgiving. They understand second chances. But first, he'd have to address them publicly. Mea culpas are not a sign of weakness, but character.