This brisk Thursday morning finds many seething Ottawa Senators‘ fans anxiously awaiting tonight’s tilt between the Senators and San Jose Sharks and the return to Ottawa of Public Enemy #1, Dany Heatley. As is known, just over a year ago, a public and acrimonious battle ensued between the Senators and their best player, Heatley, who was desperately trying to find a better place to work. Heatley put the Senators in a headlock and demanded a trade to a better team, marking the first time in the history of professional sports, a star athlete had ever, ever done that.
That’s at least the way the Ottawa tabloids are treating him…
Heatley has been termed a “cry baby” and “traitor”, and the above cover of the Sun was made so folks could cut out the pacifier sucking Heatley and wear it to tonight’s game as a mask.
That’ll sure show him…especially after he scores his second goal tonight against maybe the only defense more porous than the one the Sharks are rolling out these days.
What Ottawa should be doing is erecting a statue to Heatley outside of Scotiabank Place, not sponsoring some mask wearing hate fest.
Furthermore, the clamoring for Heatley to repay the $4 million dollar bonus the Sens paid him back then is silly, and accusing him of actively conniving to draw out his trade demand process, a process the Senators themselves dragged their feet on from the get go, in order to pilfer them out of the bonus money doesn’t hold water at all. The only argument that Ottawa would have at getting back that bonus money, would be if they wanted to put it towards the aforementioned “Dany Heatley Memorial Reflecting Pool”.
Imagine a lovely 15 foot tall bronze statue of Heater in his former Sens’ gear, in a perfect one-timer repose, gleaming behind a stunning pond that would freeze over every August to accommodate pee-wee hockey tournaments. His statue would be back-lit at night, and 362 native white cedars would ring the memorial, representing each point Heatley gave the Senators in only four seasons.
But no, instead of the ribbon cutting, there are pre-game festivities including a “Heatley Hate Fest” pub crawl and charity event. Sens’ fans are busy right now marking up bed sheets and poster boards with all manner of angry signage to express to their arch villain tonight, and the boo birds are readying their wave of mad. There is such a fevered pitch of anger and anticipation today in Canada’s capital city over Heatley’s return, that over 1,000 tickets are still available.
Come to jeer Heatley, versus come to cheer on the Senators. Or, just come to the game period…please?
I get it, and that strategy works. Shoot, this method is essentially how the NBA’s Golden State Warriors have stayed in business for the last 20 years, so my own fandom is not immune to such ploys of paying to see the other guy. But, to blame Heatley and call him a traitor? A guy who gave Ottawa 180 goals over his four seasons there, and led them to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2007? Two consecutive 50-goal seasons? C’mon.
And no, Alfie could NOT have done it by himself.
Heatley enabled the rest of the hockey world to actually be able to find Ottawa on a map again, and more than gave the Senators their money’s worth. His realization that he didn’t want to play for a declining team anymore or go to Edmonton should not be held against him. Ottawa is a beautiful city, with glorious architecture and a canal that winds through the city that freezes over in winter. Seriously, people commute to work on their CCMs on it–no kidding, a buddy of mine does it…and that sounds awesome. I haven’t been to Edmonton, but by all accounts a very nice city though extremely cold and a little remote. Point is, if I have millions of bucks like Heatley and can put myself wherever I want…then that’s exactly what I do.
Be honest with yourself, and put yourself in Heatley’s place for a second. You have the ability, by virtue of your talent and sound business decisions, to exert leverage on your employer in order to put yourself in a better situation, both personally and professionally. So, you do it. You leave to play for a West Coast powerhouse, get to receive perfect saucer passes from Joe Thornton every night, tip beers outside in the winter in Downtown Los Gatos, and overall, put yourself in a position to win. You do it ever time, and so did Heatley.
So, leave the man alone Ottawa, or get working on his statue. He wasn’t yours to start with, he played his heart out and led your team to heights not before seen…and then, yes, he moved on. Every non-delusional Sharks fan knows that should the tide rapidly change around here and our team begins to consistently suck outloud, Heater won’t be in San Jose for very long either. That’s the nature of the beast, enjoy them while you have them and when they leave?
Unless it’s Jeff Kent returning in Dodger gear to AT&T Park, because he was a dirty traitor.
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