I have some bad news for everyone coming to the game, getting ready to boo Dany Heatley Thursday night when the San Jose Sharks visit Scotiabank Place.
As much joy as fans will get from booing the villain who returns to face the angry mob, itís not going to affect Heatley and his game one iota.
Fans will be doing their upmost to distract Heatley every time he steps on the ice, but the screams will fall on deaf ears.
Players like Heatley have a special talent, a knack you just canít teach. It separates the great goal-scorers from the average NHLer.
They have the ďDONíT GIVE A CRAPĒ factor.
Like it or not, Heatley is an elite talent and world-class player. He is one of the best pure scorers in the NHL. A big reason for his success is that he doesnít give a crap what others say or think.
The average NHLer spends so much time worrying about outside distractions, wastes extraordinary energy wondering how the coach thinks heís playing. He cares how heís perceived by the fans, he worries about his position on the team. He might say he doesnít read the paper or watch sports on TV, but heís lying because he canít help himself.
I know what itís like ó I was one of those guys. Looking back on my career, I wish I wouldnít have cared so much at times because it can, as bad as it sounds, take away from your game, especially mentally.
Brett Hull is probably the best example of a D.G.A.C. player. I played many games against him and his ability to score at will was phenomenal.
Hullís quick release and accuracy were tremendous and big reasons why he scored so many goals.
But for guys like Hull and Heatley, the mental side of the game and the ability to stay calm and relaxed ó when others panic ó are just as important as the mechanics and quickness of their shots.
I had many teammates who were stars in practice, but come game time, couldnít put the puck in the ocean. They were overthinking it and they cared too much. They didnít have the D.G.A.C factor.
Just like Heatley, Hull would float around the offensive zone and disappear for a moment. Then, boom, the puck was in the back of the net.
All NHLers put in a effort, even though some fans think otherwise. But the D.G.A.C factor encompasses a lot more than simply caring about winning or losing and trying or not trying.
Average NHLers who are not known as goal-scorers think way too much when they get a chance. They grip the stick too tight when the game is on the line because they want it so bad.
Gifted goal-scorers and the blessed few who have the D.G.A.C factor are relaxed when the puck is on their stick. They donít think too hard about it, theyíre not worried about the aftermath of what happens if they score or not.
The average player has already thought about what happens if he scores, if he misses, whoís coming to take his job and his plan for life after hockey.
How Heatley plays his game will be how he approaches this game.
Many people are saying he has extra motivation coming back to Ottawa, that he will be out to prove a point.
I disagree. This will be just another game for Heatley, another game when his ability to stay calm, relaxed and not give a crap will separate him from the pack.