Speaking purely in terms of talent (and not in the made-up categories of 'heart' or 'commitment', invented by Bryan Murray in 2006), the Ottawa Senators are a better team with Dany Heatley on the roster.
Sure, he's gone and spoiled his reputation with the Sens fans, the team's management, and parts of Western Canada, but there's no doubting the man's ability to put pucks in the net. There's a reason why the Oilers wanted Dany: because he's a great goal scorer, and such players are special. A whole team of second-line players will not win games against the NHL's best clubs.
This whole situation is Heatley's fault, and it's unforgivable. He has spoiled his own reputation, and tainted the image of the Senators in the eyes of fans and other NHL teams... but that doesn't make him a less talented player.
Mediocrity is the ultimate sin in the NHL. You don't get a shot at the Stanley Cup and you don't get high draft picks - just ask the Maple Leafs. When Heatley and the Senators do accept a trade (this season or whenever), they are back on the path of mediocrity. The talent and goals received will not equal what Heatley added to the team.
The Senators have acknowledged all of the above. By signing Alex Kovalev, Murray conceded that you need a collection of special players to be a winning team in the NHL. Murray is taking a chance on Kovalev because mediocrity doesn't satisfy Eugene Melnyk or fans of the Ottawa Senators. Adding Kovalev to the mix finally breaks the Senators out of the mentality that the top line can provide all the goal-scoring. It's a combination that could prove over-powering for opponents, and Heatley's as big a part of the recipe as the other three.
I suspect that Heatley is looking at the upcoming season like an oncoming train, and he's tied himself to the tracks with his illogical demands. With every passing day, it becomes more likely that Heatley will have to swallow his pride and face the fans, the media, and his teammates. At the same time, fans will have to accept that when Heatley scores goals, he's helping the team win. Who's going to boo that?
As an added bonus, if Heatley doesn't have the season of his life, he'll never get out of Ottawa. How do you like them apples Heater?
Ultimately, if the team is winning, and Heatley's the one scoring, I'll be cheering. I hope other fans can swallow their pride and cheer along too.
PS: Last article on this situation until training camp or a trade, I promise you (and I promise myself).