Heatley will face his former team for the first time since being traded in the offseason when the NHL-leading Sharks host the Senators on Tuesday night.
Heatley joined the Senators (13-7-4) in August 2005 as part of a three-player deal with Atlanta. The move came after the left wing was seriously injured in a car accident that killed Thrashers teammate and passenger Dan Snyder in September 2003.
Once healthy, Heatley turned in his worst season in Atlanta, getting 13 goals and 12 assists in 31 games, and requested a trade.
With the NHL returning to the ice after seeing the 2004-05 season canceled due to a lockout, Ottawa saw Heatley as an ideal piece to help it win a Stanley Cup. At that point, the Senators had reached the playoffs for eight consecutive seasons, and won the 2003 Presidents’ Trophy only to fall to New Jersey in seven games during the Eastern Conference finals.
The move paid off, as Heatley scored 50 goals in each of his first two seasons and helped the Senators reach the 2007 Stanley Cup finals, where they lost to Anaheim.
After that run, the Senators rewarded the four-time All-Star with a $45-million, six-year contract extension. However, the team was swept by Pittsburgh in the opening round of the playoffs in 2007-08 and failed to qualify last season.
Heatley also had 39 goals with 33 assists in 2008-09—his worst season in Ottawa—and a perceived diminished role under coach Corey Clouston prompted him to ask for a trade.
“When I signed in Ottawa two years ago, I felt it was to be an integral part of the team,” Heatley said during an Aug. 21 conference call explaining his reasons for the trade request. “Over the last two years and more recently over the past year, I feel my role was diminished. This past season, it diminished a lot more.”
After Heatley refused to waive his no-trade clause after Senators general manager Bryan Murray reached an agreement with the Oilers, he dealt Heatley to the Sharks (18-6-4), who won the 2009 Presidents’ Trophy, but made a first-round playoff exit after losing to the Ducks.
The move appears to be paying dividends for San Jose, as Heatley ranks among the top scorers with 18 goals and 30 points while helping the Sharks compile an NHL-best 40 points.
Heatley, though, hasn’t scored a goal in his last three games, including Sunday’s 4-2 win at Vancouver.
“Lately obviously our line has been doing a lot of the work, but we got guys that can score goals and change games on the second, third and fourth lines as well and you could see it (Sunday),” said Joe Thornton(notes), who centers the Sharks’ top line with Heatley and right wing Patrick Marleau(notes).
The Senators appear to be doing just fine without Heatley, and are in the thick of the Northeast Division race with Boston and Buffalo. They squandered a chance to move into first place Saturday, though, falling 4-3 in a shootout to the Bruins.
The left wing leads the team with 13 goals.
“It’s going to be odd going into the (visiting team’s) dressing room, but I’m going to treat it as (another) game,” Michalek told the team’s official Web site. “I’m a Senator now and I’m happy here, so it’s good.”
Ottawa is 0-2-1 in its last three games against the Sharks since a 4-1 road win Oct. 18, 2003.