Bell can learn from Heatley

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:39 AM ET

OTTAWA -- Dany Heatley has some savvy advice for beleaguered Maple Leafs forward Mark Bell.

Grab a set of earplugs -- at least early on, anyways.

"I think he'll be fine," Heatley said of Bell, who made his debut in Blue and White last night after serving his 15-game suspension imposed by the NHL.

"He'll hear the odd fan say something, I'm sure. And the media will be peppering him with questions. But I think after the first few games, things will die down."

If anyone knows how to cope with the negative spotlight and heckling associated with a controversial off-ice automobile incident, it's Heatley.

Back in October 2003 Heatley was behind the wheel when an accident inGeorgia claimed the life of his friend and passenger, Atlanta Thrashers teammate Dan Snyder. After pleading guilty to second degree vehicular homicide charges, he was sentenced to three years of probation.

Looking to get a fresh start, Heatley requested to be dealt and was shipped to the Ottawa Senators for sniper MarianHossa and defenceman Greg DeVries. He has since thrived in the nation's capital and signed a six-year, $45 million US pact last month.

Bell similarly is seeking a new beginning in Toronto after plowing into the back of a pickup truck near San Jose 14 months ago. Bell was intoxicated at the time and could face six months in prison for his actions.

RUDE COMMENTS

Having been traded from San Jose to Toronto in June, Bell can expect a few rude comments on the road.

"Once you are on the ice, it is not that tough to cope," Heatley said. "You learn not to listen to the crowd and concentrate on hockey. It's more the media that will keep bringing up his past."

The throng at Scotiabank Centre was at its usual leather-lunged best last night, as is the norm for a Leafs-Sens game here. Perhaps it was even cranked up a decibel or two after a suggestion out of Toronto claimed Sens fans are "arrogant."

"How dare they!"chuckled Sens owner Eugene Melnyk. "Arrogant ... who us? I don't think so. I think we're proud ... Let's not confuse arrogance with enthusiasm and support."

Melnyk said he feels Canada can accommodate another NHL team, using Winnipeg as an example.

"I'm a big fan of Manitoba," he said.

Sens coach JohnPaddock feels the Toronto area could support a second franchise.

"If there are three in the New York area, then southern Ontario easily could do it," Paddock said.


Videos

Photos