Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Dany wants out !

Dany Heatley wants out of Ottawa and so far he hasn’t said exactly why.
I am a bit surprised that the information was not forthcoming when the news was leaked to the media. I would bet a million bucks it didn’t come from the team, so Dany or his agent JP Barry may well have been the ones to vault this from a whisper to a scream.

How it came out is irrelevant now. It is out. The reasons why Heatley doesn’t want to remain in Ottawa are also largely irrelevant. There will be the automatic guesses. Does he not like the City/GM/Coach/System/Team-mates/Eastern Canada/Division/Conference? Is it personal like his last trade demand from Atlanta where he just needed a fresh start after that horrible accident which claimed the life of his friend and team-mate? Maybe this time he wants to escape the constant reminders of a relationship gone sour or the amount of pollen in the air here affects his allergies. What ever the reason, he is not the first player in NHL history to request a trade and won’t be the last. The location where he collects his 8 million dollars this year is really his only question. Dany will be playing somewhere and somebody is going to give him 8 million bucks to do it.

Will the fences be mended and he will remain a Senator? Will a trade happen? What if a trade doesn’t happen but he still wants one? Does he hold out? Does he play unhappily and wait for a trade or a change of heart? Will the Senators get fair value for a 50 goal scorer? Will the teams that want him be able to absorb his substantial contract? Will the teams which can, be places Dany wants to go? Will this damage his reputation? Will it damage the reputation of the Senators? Will this go away quietly?

I have guesses like everyone else for the first 10 questions. I feel very confident that the answer to the 11th is NO. In a Canadian market that is hockey mad, this will not be a quiet process.

There will be talk shows and columns in the newspapers. Angry words from fans towards Heatley and the Senators and both. There will be supposition, there will be accusations, there will be unspoken innuendo about the “real” reasons. There will be unsubstantiated calls to talk shows about too many spottings in downtown bars and unsubstantiated calls about how he was treated by the club or the manager or the coach. One thing I have discovered over years of seeing these things happen. You never really ever find out what the tipping point was unless the player himself tells you in a moment of pure honesty. He may tell his wife or agent but he is never going to tell a fan or a member of the media. In fact he may never tell the Senators. There is no law that says he has to. He has the right to request a trade and they have the right to try and make one or not. If they choose not, then Heatley has a decision to make. Play or hold out. History has shown that ultimately players always win these things.

Alexei Yashin didn’t get his money from Ottawa and a court ruled the team and the NHL were correct in the interpretation of his playing contract. But he did end up getting 90 million dollars in Long Island. In the end he did get out of Ottawa and did get his fortune, so despite losing the court case, did Yashin really lose?

And what of tarnished reputations. There will be some who believe Dany is behaving like a selfish egomaniac and puts himself before the team too often. Even if that were true, Ray Emery’s apparent soon to be re-entry into the NHL proves again that a tarnished reputation is of no consequence in the NHL if your skill level is high enough and Heatley’s is certainly high enough.

There will be some who believe the club should have been more perceptive to Dany’s needs, wants and desires. After all there aren’t very many 50 goal scorers in hockey so making sure yours is happy should be important. Will the Senators, Bryan Murray and Corey Clouston’s reputations be tarnished because some will believe better care should have been taken to keep a star player happy? I doubt it. In pro sports today it is almost expected there will be a certain amount of drama involved with high level players at high level salaries.

There are 2 things I know for sure.
#1-This won’t be is a quiet summer in Hockey Country.
#2-It will mean less talk about Mats Sundin’s hockey future.

See you at the rink.


Anonymous said...

Hate to break it to you Dean but Ottawa has been seen as a circus for the past two years or so.

Constant coaching changes, Emery, Melnyk telling people to blow themselves up, now a star winger wants out.

It looks bad. It makes us look like a three-ring-cirus and I can't imagine many free agents will want to come to Ottawa when they get run out of town after a bad game.

It's ok to be a Polyanna and to be an optimist Dean, but this was one of the classiest, most (relatively) successful hockey franchises in hockey until recently.

Now, it's a mess and a shadow of its former self.

Anonymous said...

anon @ 8:18pm

I agree completely. Couldn't have said it better myself.

Anonymous said...

Ottawa is not a 3 ring circus not even close.What the probleam is some fans in ottawa think things like this only happens in ottawa and not in other citys and ever other teams don't have issues.Hate to say it but people need to look out side of ottawa.There are many teams just as bad in some cases much worse then ottawa.


Anonymous said...

He scored 39 goals last year and at 10 million salary that comes to about $256,000 a goal!!!!

Anonymous said...


I don't take comfort in your comments. The mentality of "we have problems, but so do others", is a recipe for mediocrity.

I think that this mindset is prevalent in this city. Rather we should be thinking, "we have problems, let's solve them, now!!!"

The attitude should be one that strives for excellence, especially when dealing with the Sens. If the goal is the Cup, then the standards have to be high.

Calgary made the playoffs this year, but their president, Ken King, made some pretty telling comments after firing Keenan.

He said that he looked at the year and the results were OK. But, that's not where they wanted to be. OK is not good enough, so changes had to be made.

In Ottawa, we have had two less than OK years in a row, and Melnyk has said that "Bryan's doing a great job".

This place is a circus. I do not blame any player for wanting out. If you do not have confidence in your team's management, you should express that one way or another. They have short careers.

If I'm working for a company, and the management proves over and over again that it's incompetent; I'll wait to see if they are held accountable by their bosses. If they are not held accountable, I'm outta there.

The fact that the fan base is puting this completely on Heatley, after everything that has gone on, shows how irrational it is.

That will not bode well for attracting UFA's at reasonable contracts.

Anonymous said...

The above comments are fair, and it isn't unreasonable to place some of the blame squarely in Murray's lap. However, I believe that you have to go back further to look at the root of the issues.

When Ottawa chose to keep Redden over Chara, the club began down a road that it hasn't recovered from. Muckler tried to make up for the shortcomings of the team by trading away much of the farm team, thus leaving the cupboards essentially bare.

When Murray took over, he was in a position where he had three star players needing new contracts, and one other (the core of the team - Alfie) whose contract would be up for renewal soon after. His sole PMD was in decline, and he had little to count on in the farm team for support. To top it off, his newly signed goalies would soon demonstrate that neither was capable of playing/performing at the level previously demonstrated.

Murray made what to some would seem a reasonable choice in coach, to others would seem a stupid one - he picked Paddock. Moving assistants to HC positions in the same teams is often a recipe for failure, and this is what happened, but the blame can be spread all around - Emery self-destructed, Gerber just stunk, Redden was awful, and so on. And Paddock couldn't handle it (whereas he had been able to as Assistant.) So who is to blame?

Murray started rebuilding the farm at the last draft, but it takes time. Hartsburg was brought in to provide accountability. He failed miserably - he didn't do what he had promised to.

But Heatley was happy up until that point, even with the team having the worst record in the NHL over a 12-month span. He says that the issue started before Clouston was brought in, but how long before?

Was it when it was clear that Hartsburg was on thin ice?
Was it because he was afraid that the next coach would truly be a taskmaster?
Or was it because the true leaders on the team (Alfie, Phillips, Volchenkov, Fisher) were starting to call him out for his "me-first" attitude?

Heatley says he wants to be a leader - great leaders lead by example.
Heatley says he wants to play a significant role - this comes by earning the right/privilege.

It's clear that some mistakes have been made, by both Muckler and by Murray, but it's hard to see how Heatley comes out of this with his reputation unsullied.