Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Stealing from Ian Mendes.

I would like to say this post is a direct copy cat. I am going to ask for the same thing as Sportsnet's Ian Mendes does on his current post in his Sportsnet blog.

Please don’t embarrass our industry by crashing Jason Spezza’s wedding just to try and get a quote from the currently mute Dany Heatley.

In this business there is pressure from the top to get the story, get the quote, get the picture. There are many readers/listeners/viewers who believe that when a pro athlete hits a certain pay threshold, they must forfeit their personal lives and privacy. I believe they do have to give up some anonymity as the cost of being a multi-million dollar public person, but there are limits.

Another persons wedding is that limit. If hearing Dany Heatley speak is important enough to ruin Spezza’s special day then he should be a president, pope or prime minister and not a hockey player.

This is one of those rare occasions where the media can demonstrate the kind of class and compassion they expect from their subjects but too often don’t demand of themselves.

I just can’t imagine Dany Heatley would have anything important enough to say. One day he will talk, but it shouldn’t be that day at that place and the media shouldn’t be there to report on his silence.

See you at the rink.

Monday, July 6, 2009

No guts, No glory.

No one is going to say Bryan Murray has no guts.
First the trade deadline deal to move Antoine Vermette to Columbus for goaltender Pascal Leclaire. When healthy he has been one of the best goalies in the NHL. Problem is he hasn't been healthy enough over the past few years. Big gamble for Murray right there.

Now Alex Kovalev. When he decides he wants to play, he is one of the very best in the NHL. The skill level and strength are off the charts. Problem is, his game has been dotted with enigmatic play his entire career. He can do almost anything with the puck but on too many nights he looks like he doesn't want the puck.

The wild card for Bryan Murray is the Spezza factor. In his 6 years in Montreal, Kovalev never had a playmaking centre the caliber of Spezza. If anyone can get him excited to play it will be Spezza. The one thing that very creative players love is other creative players. Spezza is certainly all that.

Bryan Murray has been put in a horrible situation by Dany Heatley, but clearly he is not throwing in the towel. This Kovalev move is certainly high risk, but also has the possibility for high reward.

Say what you want about Bryan Murray, but he certainly has the guts.

See you at the rink.

The end of the No Trade

One thing Dany has done through all of this is make no movement clauses more difficult for other players to get in their contract negotiations.
How many GM’s around the NHL are thanking the heavens they are not in the spot Bryan Murray is in. John Ferguson Jr threw no-trade contracts around like nickels and it helped make Toronto more of a mess as they tried to turn things around. Now after just 1 year of a 6 year deal Dany wants a trade and wants to decide where he goes.

It is difficult to move a player who is due 8 million dollars this season. It is more difficult when he gets to pick the team. It is ridiculously difficult when the player you are trying to move has had his reputation ravaged around the NHL as badly as Heatley has been ripped apart.

Trading a player who many other teams believe to be selfish and not a team player is very hard when the guy makes 2 million. Its even tougher when the guy makes 8 million.

Have a look at the LA Kings website. Ron Hextal works for the Kings and there is a video of him speaking at a “State of the franchise” luncheon. He is asked about Heatley since L.A. is appearantly one of the places Dany wanted to go. Hextal admits that their #1 priority is a high scoring left winger, but says the red flags went up because Heatley had problems with his coach in Atlanta, Craig Hartsburg and now Corey Clouston. Wow!

When you are exactly what a team needs and wants and they don’t want you for non-hockey reasons, that’s a shot. Hextall also pointed out the number of prospects they’d have to give up and Dany’s hefty contract go into the mix as well, but if you watch the video, the very first thing he talks about are character issues. Hextal even starts with “I don’t like to say anything negative about players, but….”. Yikes. Camp Heatley better think about a personal image consultant like the Hollywood stars use, because his personal image right now appears to be mud all across the NHL.

Right or wrong there are many teams which now feel this way about Heatley. He may get his wish to leave Ottawa, but it will be a very long time (or maybe never) that his reputation is restored.

See you at the rink.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Tom, stop helping!

Last Tuesday Wayne Scanlan wrote in the Ottawa Citizen about the comments from the former neighbor of Dany Heatley’s parents in Calgary. The guys name is Tom Malloy. He is a development coach in Austria so clearly he has the type of resume you need to have solid opinions in this situation.
Let’s go through some of his comments and see if they helped Dany.

“His mother is very upset. And the attacks are all personal stuff, about his character. Nobody mentions that this is a guy who gives up a month of his summer every year to play for Team Canada."

I would expect his mother would be upset. She is a mother. Hard to imagine she is surprised that the attacks are about his character. Also hard to imagine the rest of Canada should be kissing Dany’s feet because he gives up a month of his summer to play for Team Canada. He has always said it was a privilege but I guess the country owes him. Also maybe Dany has played in too many of these events. Had his teams done better he wouldn’t be available.

Tom talked about how Redden was crucified despite all his charity work, Hossa was traded and he thinks Melnyk should ask Murray “why don’t guys want to play here anymore”.

Well Redden didn’t want to leave Ottawa; the Senators could not justify his salary based on his current level of play. The Rangers are finding out the same thing. Wade was and is admired for all his charity work, but the hockey part didn’t work. As for Marian Hossa, he was told that if he got the money he wanted he would be too expensive for Ottawa to keep. When he got the money he said he was surprised to be traded. He also wanted to stay in Ottawa.

“Dany wants to play on a team that believes in his abilities”.

I think its pretty clear the franchise believes in his abilities since they signed him to a 45 million dollar contract and paid him 10 million dollars last year for his 39 goals. I think the point here is Corey Clouston and the Senators have a different idea about how to maximize those abilities and it does not correspond with Dany’s views on how his abilities should be used. Questioning whether he has them is not the point.

"The new coach (Cory Clouston) has decided that Dany is a second- or third-line player, uses him on the second power play and plays him 14 minutes a game. Dany had many closed-door conversations with him and was told that the situation would improve, but it didn't in the two months they were together."

Translation. Clouston didn’t do what Dany told him the way that Hartsburg and Paddock had done. I can imagine Dany would be perturbed about a coach who wouldn’t do what he was told. It is also preposterous to call Heatley a second or third line player. He didn’t always play with Spezza but neither did Alfredsson. In fact neither do Zetterberg and Datsyuk. Those two don’t always play on the same power play either. Does that mean Datsyuk has been demoted or is the coach just trying to force the opposition to defend against 2 great power plays because both units have elite players on them? And the playing time issue. Yes there were a few games where Heatley played 15 minutes or less. Most games he played over 20 and sometimes 23 minutes. Please let’s not pretend Dany didn’t get enough ice time to produce more. That is just laughable.

"Two years ago, they looked like the old Montreal Canadiens," Molloy said, "but they haven't been able to right the ship since."

As a guy who makes 10 million a year and asked for and received a letter and more team responsibilities, wasn’t Dany supposed to be one of the key guys to stop that slide? Now the responsibility lies with “they” and Dany is just a bystander?

Malloy says that maybe the Senators wanted to force Heatley to move by making things hard for him.

What? Are you kidding? What part of this is good for the franchise? What GM would intentionally put himself in this situation? This may be the dumbest of all the dumb comments from the Austrian Hockey teacher.

"Alfie is a god," Molloy said of Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson, "and nobody wants Spezza in a trade."

Mr. Malloy really thinks he’s helping the Heatley’s here. I believe the average person would surmise this is an opinion from Heatley’s parents which was likely former after private comments to them from Dany himself. So Mr. Malloy has now helped Dany to smear the team captain and his best friend on the team. Nice. Really nice.

Mr. Malloy my advice to you is to stay in Austria developing hockey players. You have to be better at that than helping Dany Heatley and his parents repair their public image.
Don’t do the Heatley’s anymore favors.

See you at the rink.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

What does Dany want?

I need someone to explain this to me.
I know that people expect those of us in the media to do the explaining, but this time I need some help.
Dany Heatley asked for a trade. He wants out of Ottawa and away from Corey Clouston and his outrageous demands that all players on his team play hard at both ends of the rink.

None of the teams Dany wanted to play for want Dany or at least some of them did not want him bad enough to make an offer that was reasonable. Edmonton wants Dany very badly. Presented a nice package to Bryan Murray. Dany was asked if he would consider Edmonton and he said “yes”. Then when the deal was done Dany said “no”. His agent JP Barry claims Dany needs more time to think about it. Well, thinking time ended at mid-night last night. Dany knew that was when his 4 million dollar cheque was to be paid and if a deal could not be worked out by then, there might not be a deal at all.

Besides everything, I don’t know exactly what Dany Heatley wants.
He won’t speak and his agents are extremely vague when they speak to the media.
His parent’s neighbor seems to be the only guy speaking out and I think he inadvertently damaged Dany’s reputation more with the logic he used to defend Heatley.

Will someone please explain to me exactly what Dany Heatley wants?
Dany if you are reading this send me a private email. I won’t divulge its contents. I would just really like to know what you want.

See you at the rink.