'We're all going for one goal:' Heatley
Fans give him warm reception at airport prior to Olympic camp
By Randy Sportak, Sun Media
Dany Heatley of the Ottawa Senators signs autographs after arriving on a Westjet flight from Kelowna at Calgary International Airport on Sunday, August 23. More than 40 NHLers are in town this week for Team Canada's orientation camp, in preparation for the 2010 Olympic games in Vancouver. (LYLE ASPINALL/SUN MEDIA)
Dany Heatley has taken a beating in the media and the public eye since finally breaking his silence a few days ago.
It didn’t stop the Ottawa Senators — at least for now — winger from being besieged by fans for autographs upon his arrival at the Calgary airport in anticipation of this week’s Olympic team’s orientation camp.
Heatley, whose trade request from Ottawa and subsequent rejection of a deal that would have sent him to Edmonton, admitted he wanted out of Ottawa because his diminished role, but was met by a throng of fans wanting him to put pen to picture, card, sweater, shirt or any other article on hand.
“We’re all Canadian hockey players right now,” he said. “We’re all going for one goal. We’re trying for one team, and the Canadian fans know that.”
Heatley’s trade request and the fact he turned down a deal to Edmonton has created a perception the Calgary product doesn’t want to play in Canada, but he adamantly said that’s not the case.
“It’s just not true. I love playing in Canada,” he said. “There were some Canadian teams on the list I gave the Senators early in the summer. I live in Canada in the summer and love playing in Canada. It has nothing to do with that.”
That was the extent the 50-goal scorer would talk about his trade demands, in the hopes he’ll not be a distraction to the 45 other players in Calgary for the four-day camp which begins today.
For Heatley, who was part of the 2006 team that finished seventh in 2006, it’s also the first step to redemption.
“No question. After Salt Lake, you get bragging rights for four years,” he said. “We were the best hockey country. In Torino, obviously we didn’t get the job done and now we want that back.”
For the next four days, the Canadian contingent will be briefed on their game plans and system play as well as logistical information.
Heatley said the importance of such a gathering can’t be overstated.
“It’s a big thing, especially in these types of tournaments,” he said. “They’re so short, the tournament itself. On a normal team, you get to know your guys, get to know each other, and I think a camp like this in the summer, you get a head start on that, start hanging out with guys and playing with different guys is a huge help come tournament time.
“Come Olympic time, you’re not going to have much time to go over systems or things like that. You have to be ready for it.”
Canada’s undoing in ’06 was a lack of scoring. Heatley had great success at past world championship tournaments with Joe Thornton and Rick Nash, a pair of players who’ll also be at the camp.
However, he won’t demand to play with those stars.
“There’s so many great players, for me, so many great forwards to play with. The goal is just making the team. Whoever you’re going to play with is going to be a great player,” he said.
“It’s a short tournament and you have to be ready. It goes game by game and you need to find a way to get the job done. It was a big thing, not putting the puck in the net last time, and it’s going to be a big thing in any tournament.”