October 11, 2011
On Tuesday night, Dany Heatley(notes) makes his second visit to Ottawa since his 2009 trade demand, and subsequent wielding of his no-trade clause, made him the most hated man in the NHL for Senators faithful.
According to Wayne Scanlan of the Ottawa Citizen, the media sharks in the water for Heatley met him not with snapping jaws but with a yawn:
Other than the big game day scrum, Dany Heatley's return to Ottawa in an enemy jersey has become rather ho-hum stuff.
This is what we learned this morning: Heatley saw his old pal Jason Spezza(notes) on Monday night, Heater is happy to be a member of the Wild, and the organization is thrilled to have him. But, it is early days. "I'm honoured," Heatley said about being made an assistant captain in Minnesota. "It's a real good team. Ever since I've got here they've treated me well — the coaching staff, it's a great young staff and they're bringing a lot of excitement to this team.
Heatley didn't speak long, or say much, but he was friendly, cordial, complimented me on my U of Vermont hockey cap and did look to be in good shape physically.
Now, the reaction from the media and the reaction from the fans will likely be quite distinctive. The 6th Sens loaded up their preview post with anti-Heater images. Sens fan Kathryn Jean has a Heatley jersey all Protest Jersey'd up (above). There will be booing. Jeering, even.
But now that it's Round 2 for Heatley following his first game back in December 2010, and now that his own conditions having changed in the offseason, has the hate on Dany Heatley Hate Day subsided a bit for the fans?
Ottawa is looking to get in the win column for the first time in the young season, and who else better to get the W on than Dany Heatley, who oh ya, is back at SBP for the second time in case you haven't heard. To be honest, I'm over the Heatley thing. It was fun last year, we'll boo him tonight, but I've moved on for the most part.
Apathy is one thing; forgiveness is another.
Can Ottawa Senators fans really forgive Dany Heatley? That's the question Alexander Monaghan of NHL Hot Stove is asking:
His regression came full circle. Coming from a team like San Jose that was previously filled with "playoff chokers", he was singled out and traded for an question mark and former-Senator Martin Havlat(notes). To put this trade into perspective, Havlat already went under the knife with offseason shoulder surgery and produced less than Heatley last season. He, along with Devin Setoguchi(notes), were deemed expendable as the Sharks continue their quest for their first Stanley Cup.
To reiterate: the Senators felt spurned, cheated, hurt, etc by Heatley's trade demands. He likely felt the same way with San Jose, when he was shipped out of town due to his postseason disappearing act — three goals and nine points through 18 games.
… A good Canadian boy who should have led them to a championship felt the need to leave for greener pastures and deny this franchise a legitimate chance at the Cup. The city of Ottawa seems poised to never forget this tragedy, and probably won't forgive even after he retires. The moral of this story: Don't [expletive] with Ottawa.
It's an interesting thesis: That Heatley is a living example of being careful for what one wishes for, as his trade demand led to two seasons with the Sharks that didn't result in a championship, but did result in enough scrutiny to have him then shipping to Minnesota during a small window in his no-trade clause.
Ken Warren of the Ottawa Citizen moves the ball a little further down the field on this idea:
Yet, like Yashin, Heatley has come and gone. The future is now, even if that means many more long nights like Friday's season-opening 5-3 defeat to the Detroit Red Wings and Saturday's wacky 6-5 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
It's time to move on from Heatley.
If it's any consolation, Heatley hasn't received what he wanted. After being traded for Martin Havlat in the summer, there's a certain irony to his situation. Heatley, who refused to play for the Senators and Oilers because he felt they had little chance to win it all, has joined a franchise desperately searching for a way back to the playoffs, searching for its identity. Does anyone really hate the Wild? Who is the face of the franchise? Mikko Koivu(notes)? Cal Clutterbuck(notes)?
In retrospect, you could even argue that Heatley did the Senators a great favour. Somewhat lost in the Heatley hate here is that he has lost his status as a front-line National Hockey League scorer.
There will be boos Tuesday night. Many of them. There will be protest jerseys and Dany "Hately" shirts, too. But will there be chants of "traitor" like his previous visit with the San Jose Sharks? Will we see more Heatley sweaters hit the ice in disgust?
Bruce Brothers of Wild Now wrote that Heatley believes "the rancor among fans has probably dissipated" for his return.
Perhaps it has … but he still might want to invest in some earplugs.