You may remember the Terrell Owens spin on this scene from Valkyrie, but this one hits a little closer to home for fans of the Senators:
Tag-Archive for » Dany Heatley «
Question: right from the beginning of Sens training camp last season, what was the team’s glaring weakness as stated by those in the know?
Answer: a puck-moving defenceman.
Time and time we were told that the Senators could not get the offence going because as soon as the puck was played deep into their end, opponents pressured its nervous and granite-handed defencemen into turning it over. Without the ability to get the puck out of the zone the forwards were forced to retreat deeper and deeper in order to lend a hand, leaving them wide open to neutral zone turnovers. Even to this layman’s eyes, the lack of a sure-handed offensive defenceman was more than obvious.
Apparently, Senators GM Bryan Murray disagrees.
Murray’s answer to this dilemna is to sign an aging right-winger who’s being run out of town by his former coach and GM for lack of effort. This from a team in the midst of a saga involving a disgruntled superstar upset that his new coach expects an equal effort at both ends of the ice, game in and game out. Take a look at this quote and try and determine who the subject might be:
“The reason we took him off the line was, he wasn’t giving that line any forechecking,” (team’s) coach said. “I think (he) can skate a little quicker than he has been. He’s just got to give us a little bit more away from the puck, do a little bit more forechecking and play the body a little bit better.”
That was John Muckler on Alexei Kovalev in 1998. Now what about this one:
“We’re trying to get out of a situation that is not easy, and until we get 20 guys playing, it’ll be tough,” the coach told reporters before adding that he plans to speak to the player regarding his recent troubles.
That was Guy Carboneau commenting on Kovalev’s apparent lack of effort in February of this year. Finally:
“Nothing different (was asked) than from the rest of the team. You want to see consistency in effort, consistency in practice and to play a team game,” said (the coach). “All you have to do is look at the Stanley Cup final to see what can be accomplished when you play as a team.”
That last one was Cory Clouston commenting on the Heatley disgruntlement saga.
It baffles me that Murray would bring in a player with Kovalev’s reputation just as he tries to get rid of a player who would rather play elsewhere than for a coach who demands effort. And on the other side of the coin: what the hell is Kovalev thinking?
Of course I’m excited about the prospect of what Kovalev can bring, that brilliance that he clearly possesses on some nights, but what the Sens needed wasn’t another aloof offensive artist in the Spezza-Kovalev-Heatley mold, it was a puck-moving defenceman.
That need has yet to be met! If the season starts with the same defensive corps it ended with, Sens fans are in for another year of hurt. One can hope that the Heatley “sweepstakes” will yield such a prize, but if the scuttled deal with Edmonton was any indication, Murray hasn’t identified that need as pressing, or the options available to him are paltry.
I don’t know, but for a guy who came to this team as a head coach, managed to oust the GM in order to replace him, and has now assumed many of the responsibilites of the outgoing president (whose reasons for leaving are still shrouded in mystery), I’d expect something a little more inspired than a two-year deal to for Alexei Kovalev.
Ottawa is not being kind to Dany Heatley. Nor should it be. Lola layed it out perfectly in the reader comments from my previous post:
He wanted out of Atlanta because he needed a fresh start – he came to a community that has embraced him and his formidable talent.
What you’re seeing in the fiery reaction to his demand is akin to a lover being spurned. The community in question took Heatley in from the storm that was his manslaugher conviction in Atlanta. He avoided most criticisms because Jason Spezza and Wade Redden were the great big vaccum that sucked all the negative attention away. He lived in a city that adores its athletes without suffocating its stars. He played for an organization that by most accounts is classy from the top down.
And what does Ottawa get for all this goodwill? A choke job in the Stanley Cup Finals and a trade request one year after signing a long-term contract that is in the upper echelons of monetary value in the league. It just goes to show that the fans always get the short end of the stick.
We can’t even point to greed as the motivation. Although no less excusable, you could follow the logic if Heatley was heading into a contract year and worried about getting a few less minutes per game under Cory Clouston.
No, such considerations are not at play here because his current deal still has tens of millions left and many years coming to him. According to those in the know, Heatley wants out because his minutes were reduced under Clouston, he was relegated to the second power-play unit, asked to pitch in with defensive responsibilities, and his girlfriend lives out West.
Therefore, we can attribute the trade request to a crisis of ego. Here we have The Athlete unable to come to grips with a head coach that won’t give him special privileges based on past accomplishments. The Athlete wants what he wants and that should be the end of the story because he once scored 50 goals. One wonders how such a prima-donna would have reacted to having Pat Burns or Mike Keenan as a coach (in all likelyhood, the result probably wouldn’t be dissimilar to what we’re seeing now).
Come to think of it, was there ever any evidence that playing in Atlanta had become too difficult in terms of media or fan scrutiny about the fatal Ferrari crash? Could the reason for his previous trade request have anything to do with playing under Bob Hartley, another coach who is no wilting lily? That question might have seemed offsides just a week ago but a pattern is certainly developing, making it fair game. Maybe what Heatley seeks is a Tom Renney-Larry Robinson type of coddler.
A few posters pointed out that this might be a blessing in disguise, and I agree with them. The Senators’ main weakness last season was the lack of a puck moving defencemen. If the Sens were to plug that hole with John-Michael Liles, Drew Doughty or Kyle Quincy, you could just look back and say it’s the deal that should have taken place before this season’s trade deadline (albeit with a different Sens forward). If the Kings are really the dance partner, throw in the 5th pick in this year’s draft and we’ll forget ‘Ol Gap-Tooth in no time.
There’s enough going on in the NHL to warrant a run-down of thoughts:
- Game 7 goes Friday night in Detroit. I haven’t watched a game in its entirety in this series. I won’t be watching one Friday either, since Roy Halladay will be chucking a no-hitter against the Marlins. From what I can tell, however, Detroit seems to be able to flick that switch on and off, and I don’t expect that close a game. My pick: 4-1 Detroit (empty net goal).
- The proceedings into the Balsillie affair got underway yesterday in Phoenix. I’ve got the sneaking suspicion that the judge will side with the NHL, unfortunately. Relocation fees will be the sticking point, where Bettman will hold his ground by demanding ridiculous amounts of cash for the right to relocate. Who knows, maybe Balsillie will say “what’s another $500 million?”. Nonetheless, everything has been set in motion to get another team in Southern Ontario. That momentum will not go away, and the NHL governors will insist that it happens despite the objections of Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment, whether it’s Jim Balsillie at the helm or not – there’s just too much money to be made.
- Dany Heatley wants out of the Capital. Well boo-hoo to him. Don’t like the new coach, Dany? Tough beans. Unfortunately we occupy an era where The Athlete rules the roost, and The Athlete will have his wish granted. What complicates things is Heatley’s no-trade clause, so not only do the Sens have to trade him but he has to agree with the destination. The NHL would be wise to negotiate the use of this clause out of the next CBA (which means they won’t do it). Leafs Nation would be the first to acknowledge that this clause can ruin franchises (you also need incompetent managers, but that’s another issue).
- So where does he go? Although the talking heads in the embedded media (to borrow a term from Bruce Dowbiggin) have him going to Edmonton or Calgary, wouldn’t a trade with Colorado be the logical assumption? They have a bunch of stars they want to unload (Svatos, Hjeduk, Liles) as they rebuild. It’s in the Western Conference, just like The Athlete apparently demands. Let’s see this happen. Buh-bye Dany.
- I never warmed to Heatley, but I would have thought Spezza would be the one to pull this stunt – would have been happy had he done it. Now the Sens are stuck getting rid of a valuable asset. Here’s hoping they get something serviceable in return.