Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Who wants to Buy a Spoiled Brat?

Because the Ottawa Senators have one they're trying to unload. Dany Heatley has requested a trade, and while this is old news to some people, I finally decided to put in my two cents on the situation. First and foremost, this is not the first time Heatley has requested a trade. It's not exactly uncommon for professional athletes to ask for a trade if things are not going the way they had hoped with a certain team, but most would give the team more than a season or two to decide weather or not they were worthy of their efforts. Before I get ahead of myself, let me bring you up to speed on Heatley's past and why he's in Ottawa in the first place.

In late September 2003, Dany Heatley, then of the Atlanta Thrashers, was driving his Ferrari with his teammate Dan Snyder. Mix millions of dollars with a little bit of alcohol, add a fast car and you get disaster. Heatley's car split in half after crashing into a wall. Both were ejected. Healtey survived despite a broken jaw, a minor concussion, a bruised lung, bruised kidney, and torn ligaments in his knee. Snyder died six days later due to a fractured skull. Amazingly, the Snyder family and the Atlanta Thrashers were supportive of Heatley. After his recovery, he finished the 2003-04 season with Atlanta, but requested a trade. He wanted to get away from the painful reminders of the crash. The Thrashers traded him for Marian Hossa and Greg de Vries.

Heatley had great success in Ottawa, even breaking some of Marian Hossa's team records. Things seemed to be going well for Heatley as the Sens climbed up the standings over the next couple seasons. He played on the top line with Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson, the famed 'CASH Line' (team Captain Alfredsson, Spezza, Heatley). After making it to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2007, Healtey signed a new 6-year contract extension with the Senators worth $45 million. This is where it starts to get ugly. After his lowest production since his rookie season and the Senators finishing 11th in the Eastern Conference, Heatley suddenly wants out and he's only one year into his new contract extension. When first reading this, you may think that Heatley is a competitor who just wants to win and since Ottawa isn't winning right now, he wants out. Problem is, his reason for wanting out all stem from the hiring of Senators Head Coach Cory Clouston who is nicknamed the 'baby-faced drill sergeant' because he actually makes his players hustle during practice. Clouston coached just 34 games in 2008-09, but his record of 19-11-4 was very respectable, especially in the middle of a losing season. This record was achieved with some sacrifice, however, as Heatley was moved to the second power play unit.

So to recap, Heatley is mad for being expected to EARN his millions of dollars and can't believe he is being punished after failing to do so. I guess someone forgot to tell him that you don't get paid for what you did in the past, you get paid for what you're expected to do now.

Amazingly, a team actually answered the call for Heatley's trade request, however, that team was not good enough for Heatley who insists on having his cake and eating it to. That team was the Edmonton Oilers, who insist that the trade is still possible despite Heatley refusing to waive his 'no trade clause' to go there. The other few teams that were reported to have been high on Heatley's priority list have since aquired the services of more dedicated players and are no longer in the market for a half-hearted Left Wing. Ron Hextall of the LA Kings, one of the teams Heatley approved of, had this to say of the possibility of acquiring Heatley: "I'm going to spell it out to you as nicely I can. He was in Atlanta, had an unfortunate accident there and asked to be traded. OK, given the circumstances -- there was a young man killed -- I can live with that. He goes to Ottawa, he's on a pretty good team, they go to the finals, signs a big contract ... bang, all of the sudden now he's got to be traded again. 'Not only do I have to be traded, I have a no-trade clause. I want to pick where I'm going to go.' Well, there are some issues there. That raises huge red flags for us." Well said.

This is the problem Heatley has created for himself. He is a very talented player, but his attitude and sudden changes of heart make him an unwanted asset to a team that is trying to contend for a Cup. Only a rebuilding team would be interested in taking a chance on him now, but he is obviously not interested in rebuilding. On the Senator's side, they have mega bucks going towards a guy that does not want to be there. What a happy locker room that will be. I expect one of three things to happen in the next year:

1. Heatley accepts the Edmonton offer and goes to play in front of the fans that he has already disrespected.

2. Healtey stays in Ottawa and plays the best hockey he can play in order to attract a better team for next year when he can try to request a trade in a more mature manner. This is the most viable option for him at this point.

3. Clouston puts Heatley on the fourth line until he breaks and decides to be a team player. This is unlikely because it's in Clouston's best interest to play Heatley to the maximum of his abilities since his job actually depends on it, but as a regular Joe Blow, it would be great to see the spoiled brat squirm just a bit. Agree? Disagree? Leave me a comment.

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