Heatley shocks junior coach

ERIC FRANCIS, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:31 AM ET

Not many are lining up to defend Dany Heatley these days.

Not even Heatley himself, as the embattled Calgarian refuses to try rationalizing his decisions.

However, while team officials around the league question his character and criticize his inability to coexist with coaches, at least one of his former coaches says that's not the Heatley he knew.

"This is all so hard to understand -- I'm as disappointed as hell," said Calgary Canucks coach Don Phelps, Heatley's coach at age 17.

"When I had him, he was fun to have around and totally committed. He never complained. I was so impressed with his willingness to buy in. He played the role he was asked to play. My relationship with him couldn't have been better. He was all about, 'I'll do whatever you want me to, coach, to be a better player.' "

Granted, it's been a decade since the two worked so closely together. And now, Phelps is put off like the rest of the hockey world by Heatley's trade demand and subsequent refusal to accept a trade to Edmonton.

"Something has changed between then and now, because if what's suggested is true, this is a complete reversal of the kid I knew," said Phelps, who blames the attitude change on money.

"Everybody reacts differently as a person when people throw millions your way, and if it isn't money that's changed him, what is it?"

Phelps adds the people surrounding him aren't helping.

"No question he's getting bad advice," said Phelps, who figures no NHL team will want the former 50-goal scorer and he'll end up playing in Europe.

"I'm almost shocked at the position he's put himself in with the general public. If I'm a guy on the outside now, and I see all this, I'm disgusted."

Now more notes, quotes and anecdotes from a sports world wondering if Jesse Lumsden still gets offended at the title "injury-plagued."

AROUND THE HORN

If Joe Sakic can make the Olympic team, the B.C. native gets the captain's C by default. In his absence, it would be a three-horse race between Jarome Iginla, Sidney Crosby and Scott Niedermayer, with Iginla the favourite given he's in the prime of his career ... From one local sports scribe to another, when Flames scout Ron Sutter showed up at a Stamps practice with his son last week: "Can't we go anywhere without a Sutter being part of the story?" ... Might I suggest we all save some time and effort by urging Steve Yzerman to recall invites to what will inevitably be his first wave of Team Canada cuts: Andy McDonald, Ryan Smyth, Derek Roy, Dan Cleary and Stephane Robidas.

PARTING GIFTS

Four years and $16 million for Nik Antropov? Nice to see Atlanta striving to keep up a strong tradition of mediocrity ... Another Sutter joined the coaching ranks when Brian's son Shaun joined the Regina Pats as an assistant ... Soon to make its debut in Montreal: The Smurf Line -- the most overpriced, undersized line in NHL history featuring $18 million in salary annually courtesy of Scott Gomez, Mike Cammalleri and Brian Gionta ... OK, I'll admit it: I was the guy who watched tennis yesterday. And for the first time in years, I wasn't disappointed as Andy Roddick gave Roger Federer a match for the ages ... Still chuckling over the botched Olympic press conference for Samsung in Vancouver where the animated video promoting a wireless program drew gasps when it showed a hockey player wearing blue and yellow standing atop the podium while a player in red and white stood a tier down. Paul Kariya was also shown as the Canadian team's leading scorer. Apparently, the software was developed in Korea. Oops.


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