Dany Heatley registered 39 goals and 72 points in 82 games for the Ottawa Senators this season. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)
You know Dany Heatley crossed the line when the talent-starved Toronto Maple Leafs won’t trade for him.
Leafs GM Brian Burke said his team would not be in the mix for any deal involving Heatley based on the method the big left winger took in asking for a trade out of Ottawa.
Namely, that his demand for a deal was made public.
“We’re not going to be in on that,” Burke said on Wednesday. “He’s a good player, but I have certain guidelines on how players ask for trades.”
I’m certainly not the only one with a memory long enough to recall Burke having no moral dilemma over trading for a publicly-on-the-block superstar when he brought Chris Pronger to Anaheim from Edmonton in 2006.
But as others have noted, the details of that transaction were a little different in that it was the Oilers who let it be known Pronger wanted out, not the player himself.
If Heatley’s approach to manufacturing a scenery change doesn’t leave you with a bad taste, there’s a good chance his rationale for the request will. To be fair, we don’t know all the details right now. As it stands, we’re going on the heavily reported idea Heatley was disappointed about a slight drop in ice time under new coach Cory Clouston and being relegated to the second power play unit.
No word yet on whether the shower pressure in the Senators’ dressing room is at an acceptable level.
Heatley, like just about everything associated with Ottawa in recent months, endured a bit of a grind in 2008-09. Scoring 39 goals is quite a feat, unless you’re one of only a handful of players who can consistently pop 45 to 50 and are paid accordingly.
About the only thing the Sens had going for them last year was the chemistry they found when Clouston took over for Craig Hartsburg in early February. After stumbling through about 14 months of severely underwhelming hockey, Ottawa finally began tapping some of its ample potential. The fact this coincided with a slightly reduced role for Heatley should have been a positive for the organization, in the sense that the prevailing notion heading into next season could have been, ‘Wow, if we got it turned around without Heater fully firing, imagine what’s going to happen when he gets going.’
Instead, one player’s selfish attitude is going to compromise the progress of an entire team.
Does Heatley truly believe there’s no opportunity for him to re-claim a lead-horse role in Ottawa? My guess is it would take one big night, one game where he shows why he’s such a special talent by burying a couple shots only a handful of guys can make, for Clouston to give him the bit and let him run.
But Heatley has chosen to bolt based on two months of what he deemed to be unsatisfactory circumstance.
Burke’s comments aside, there will be no shortage of suitors for Heatley. And his new team will rightly be happy to have such a unique talent on board.
But the strength of relationships is determined by tough times, not rosy ones, and Heatley’s as-yet-undetermined new club might be in for a rude awakening when the waters inevitably turn rough.
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Ryan Dixon is a writer and copy editor for The Hockey News magazine, the co-author of the book Hockey's Young Guns and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Thursdays and his column, Top Shelf, appears Wednesdays.
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