November 29, 2010
"The Aristocrats" is a lewd joke told among comedians (and immortalized in a 2005 documentary) that starts with a basic premise involving a family auditioning a new vaudeville act and then adds layers of depraved, perverted and offensive details with the aim to shock and titillate.
The rumors and innuendo regarding Dany Heatley's(notes) departure from the Ottawa Senators are, for anyone within earshot of an NHL locker room in 2009, the hockey version of "The Aristocrats": Outrageous, tawdry tales that usually recycled the best urban legends from minor league hockey and then simply changed the names. Stuff that you'd get arrested for downloading in a public library. Stuff that makes Delonte West/Gloria James read like a children's novel.
Publishing them is pointless, because there's only one editor for this story and the most he'll say is that it was "time for a change." But on those rumors, Dany Heatley, days away from his return to Ottawa with the San Jose Sharks on Dec. 2, told Sportsnet that he's not bothered by the gossip that still festers long after he left for California.
"You just realize it's all BS basically," Heatley told Rogers Sportsnet. "A lot of people come up with things and come up with theories, but that's kind of the new world with technology and blogs and things like that. It seems like people come up with all sorts of stories. But the bottom line is it was a very simple thing: I needed a hockey change and that's what I felt was best for me."
In the summer of 2009, Heatley told reporters that a "diminished role" under then new head coach Cory Clouston was the catalyst for his trade request. But the speculation was that Heatley left town for another reason, which was never disclosed. When asked directly if there were reasons, other than Clouston, that he wanted to leave, Heatley reiterated his original stance.
"I think the main thing is a change. I just needed a change. Some people can't accept that," explained Heatley. "I know there's been a lot of stuff speculated and lot of stories told. But the main thing is I felt like it was time for me to change and get a fresh start somewhere and I've enjoyed my time in San Jose."
Expect to hear a lot about The Trade That Happened and The Trade That Didn't Happen in the next 72 hours. Don't expect to hear a hell of a lot more than what Heatley's offering Sportsnet tonight and has offered everyone but the Ottawa media since the deal.
He said he'll face the local press -- "I'm not going to be frosty. I'm going to come in and answer questions," said Heatley -- but does anyone expect insight beyond "it was time for a change" and "I loved my time here in Ottawa"?
(Then again, this is the Ottawa media we're talking about; Don Brennan once challenge Georges Laraque for sanity's sake.)
Even if he's candid, what's the point? Heatley wasn't exactly the most believable source during that summer ordeal; why buy his line now?
Meanwhile, in case you were wondering if Senators fans are ready for this Heatley Homecoming: They're booing the Sharks logo whenever it appears on the Jumbotron at Ottawa home games. So yeah, they're ready.