The Ottawa Sun recently filled two complete pages with comments from their website and letters from readers likening the recently condemned Dany Heatley to some sort of treasonous turn-coat. The resentment for Heatley is palpable in the papers and online, where many anonymous so-called fans unleash their narrow-minded and reactionary vitriol.
I, for one, don't even dislike the guy. In fact, I think Heatley's handling of his apparent dislike for the Ottawa Senators organization, and recently reported trade request, has been commendable. Any likening to Alexei Yashin is entirely unwarranted, and here's why:
He waited until the offseason to leak to the media his intentions. Such a story in the middle of a season would have knocked the Sens entirely off track to recovery. A truly classless individual would have announced his preference to be traded as soon as the thought crossed his mind.
A couple seasons ago, Heatley was one of a small group of players whose character was unquestioned during the Ray Emery Crisis (copyrighted term). He was, until a week ago, seen as a possible future captain of the team.
Heatley did not go directly to the media and attempt to sway public opinion in his favour by attempting to place blame on the GM, coaches, or teammates. Offering such a conversation to any daily newspaper would have spared him of this sort of mean-spirited attack, in exchange for a juicy story. (Seriously... Brennan, did he break into your house and punch your wife in the face or something? Direct the anger at the therapist-perscribed life-sized facimile of your father.)
Yashin held out for an entire season because he wanted more money. Heatley's situation is entirely different and has nothing to do with greed at this time (he already got the big contract). He wants out because he's unhappy. Heatley probably has personal problems and attitudes that we shouldn't attempt to boil into one paragraph. Hockey players are complete people that have feelings, relationships, and families to take care of.
If Heatley wants out of town because he's on the second power-play unit, let him go. If the answer is so simple, then let him walk and accept whatever is gained through the trade. If he has no heart (a possibly fatal medical condition which Heatley didn't seem to suffer from before this trade request), it's better to get rid of him now than to have him lounge around for another five seasons.
Finally, it's unlikely that Heatley will reach the heights of goal-scoring that he did with the Ottawa Senators at any other organization. He gave his best years to the Sens and their fans, and for the time he has spent here has never been anything but a model NHL player and community contributor.
On another note:
Here's what I've been up to so far this summer: I finished my degree at the University of Ottawa, organized a trip to Europe with my friends, executed said trip, had my convocation ceremony and am re-settling into my apartment with some new life priorities, including finding a career. I would rather be a fair-weather blogger than a fair-weather human. Any commentor who would like to personally sponsor the Sens Army Blog daily updates should send me an email.
Thanks to everyone who has commented constructively to figuring this Heatley situation out. I would love to get somebody like Phaneuf and a 1st-round draft pick in return. The draft's not far away, and I'm looking forward to seeing what moves Murray will make now that the farm team's loaded with (what's that catch phrase?) puck-moving defencemen.