The way I see it, Dany Heatley may end up being another Chris Pronger, times three.
Heatley asked for a trade from Atlanta, and ended up in Ottawa. He’s asked for a trade from Ottawa and, at the moment, no one really knows where he is going to end up. It looks like Edmonton is off the radar, but one never knows.
The reason I compare this young Canadian player to Pronger is that both seem to hate the idea of playing hockey in the City of Champions. I think Ottawa should now ignore Heatley’s request to be traded, and force him to play out his contract, much like I believe the Oilers should have done with Pronger.
I know. Having a player on your roster and in your dressing room that would rather be anywhere else can be poison to a team. It’s hard to foster productive relationships when one party isn’t invested.
I know that every player has a right to request a trade; for family reasons, for personal reasons, for stress reasons, for whatever reason. But I look at it this way:
Pronger requested a trade after he had gone through one of the toughest losses and events a team can go through, losing the Cup in game seven. While he may have had legitimate reasons to request a trade, it’s a slap in the face to announce that desire days after the wind had been knocked out of the city.
Heatley requested a trade after a not too shabby season (to be honest, I didn’t really watch the Senators this year, so I don’t really know why he wants out).
I’m all for Heatley coming to Edmonton. He’d be a hero on the first line. But to request a trade and then refuse to waive your no-trade clause for the only legitimate offer made to the Senators is a low blow.
It’s a slap in the face of the City of Edmonton, and the Oilers organization. It’s a slap in the face of the Senators organization that tried to follow through on Heatley’s trade request.
It’s a slap in the face to all of his teammates in Ottawa who played hard beside him. It’s a slap in the face to the City of Ottawa, who supported him after being shipped from Atlanta, and rallied around him as a star player they had been looking for. It’s a slap in the face to hockey.
I have always believed that while there is fighting on the ice, and the regular brow-beating that comes with sports, hockey is a game of gentlemen.
I don’t mean let’s drink tea and comment on the weather in London sort of gentlemen, I mean guys who work hard, play hard, and act fair. With honesty. With pride and a sense of commitment. It’s like a war. You leave no brother behind in hockey.
But Heatley has left everyone behind.
And now it’s in the public and now other teams know that Heatley is going to come at a cost. Ottawa will have to recoup their $4 million somewhere, and it will either come with trades or by forcing Heatley to stay and play for that bonus.
But money isn’t the only cost. He’s liable to be a downer in the dressing room, and we know he’s willing to argue with/stick it to whichever team takes him. If anyone wants him now, he’s damaged goods.
As a writer, I try to be as non-biased in my articles as possible. Today, however, I am an Oiler fan. And as a devout Oiler fan, it’s hard to imagine me disliking a player more than I dislike Pronger. No one insults my city or my team.
However, I think Heatley may just become one of Oilers fans’ No. 1 enemies.
I just hope you come to the West where we will see you more than once a year. Better bring your earplugs.