It’s been another cloudy weekend and, for the Senators and their fans, that’s both literally and figuratively.
The skies don’t look like they’re going to be clearing any time soon, either.
It appears we’re in for a period of retrenching on the Dany Heatley cold front. We’ve heard from just about everybody: The owner, the GM, teammates, the agent, fans ... everybody but the churlish winger himself.
Just about everybody has said their piece and the only thing that has been advanced is the level of frustration on the Senators’ side and the damage to Heatley’s reputation on the other.
Oilers GM Steve Tambellini, twice rebuffed by Heatley, has left the door open a crack to a Heatley deal, but that would seem to be irrelevant since the word from Heatley’s agent, J.P. Barry, is the Senators didn’t even have permission to deal him there anyway.
This is devolving into one of the most unsavoury confrontations between a team and a player in recent memory.
It has sparked reaction across the board. Even Kings assistant GM Ron Hextall weighed in: “Three coaches (Heatley’s) had a problem with. That raises huge red flags for us,” he said.
That’s the biggest reason this has people in the game talking. Disagreements between clubs and players are usually over money. This is something very different and strikes at the core of NHL business: Just who is running the show?
Heatley threw a hissy fit and asked for a trade because his drop in performance led to him being demoted in the Senators’ lineup, a move coach Cory Clouston made in the best interest of the team.
Heatley’s petulance goes against the fundamental unwritten rules of the game: You earn ice time and you don’t put yourself ahead of the team.
(If it’s anything more than that, Heatley should speak up because in the vacuum, his reputation is being hammered, as Hextall pointed out.)
Heatley has crippled the Senators’ ability to resolve the situation and then his camp complains the team hasn’t done enough to resolve the situation. He asks for a trade, gets one and then rejects it.
The potential landing spots for Heatley have all but disappeared. The Rangers and the Kings, who were both interested in him at one point, have since opted for players who you could consider as high risk rather than work to secure Heatley’s services.
The Rangers used a considerable amount of their remaining cap space to sign free-agent winger Marian Gaborik (five years, $37.5 million), despite his history of injury problems.
The Kings — whose true feelings are revealed by Hextall — traded for the aging and slowing Ryan Smyth, six years older than Heatley and, who, since tearfully leaving Edmonton at the trade deadline in 2007, has scored just 45 goals in two seasons. They’d rather risk their $6.25-million cap hit on the diminishing returns from a 33-year-old than a 28-year-old who should be in his prime.
This makes Heatley’s inclusion on the list of 46 players who will be invited to Calgary for Team Canada’s summer orientation camp at the end of next month all the more intriguing.
It shouldn’t be a surprise, I suppose. Heatley has served Canada well internationally, rising to become the all-time Canadian goal-scorer at the world championships, pumping pucks by Belarusian and Norwegian goaltenders. Team Canada executive director Steve Yzerman is right to suppose the Heatley situation will be resolved by training camp.
But wouldn’t playing for Team Canada only serve to expose Heatley’s hypocrisy and give hockey fans — not just here in Ottawa, but everywhere — another reason to brand him as completely self-absorbed?
We all know the “check your ego at the door” mantra that comes with participation on our Olympic and World Cup teams. Stars on club teams are expected to put the good of the group ahead of their own gains.
So, how the hell does Team Canada management square that approach with Heatley’s inclusion?
Putting himself above the team is exactly what he has done with the Senators.
Being moved to the second power-play unit (youngster Nick Foligno replaced him on the first) and a corresponding reduction in his ice time ticked off Heatley, even though the changes resulted in a better record for the Senators.
I suppose if it’s Jarome Iginla or Rick Nash doing the bumping, it’s going to be okay.