I was hanging around the local Starbucks today contemplating all things Sharks and perusing the web looking for my next “Say What” topic, when I suddenly thought of Dany Heatley. I’m sure some of you just gasped…once the hope of the SJ Sharks, he played one solid season before tumbling from glory and becoming what can essentially be termed as the polar opposite of a fan favorite. Fans who initially loved wearing his name on their back wished they had never invested in those big block letters and the loyalty to the once respected former Sen faded quickly. After that less than spectacular season we saw Heatley go to the MN Wild in a One for One trade for Martin Havlat and a whole new myriad of issues arose. Havlat was brought in to put pucks on nets and make up for some speed lost as the beloved Devin Setoguchi was swapped out for the big two-way defenseman known as Brent Burns.
Had the season played out like it was supposed to, with a healthy Havlat dominating game after game I probably wouldn’t even be typing this right now…but since the injury reports and stat sheets don’t lie, here I am plugging along with this posting. With Havlat going out early with that nasty injury in mid December a whole lot of hope was lost for the Sharks. To add to that misery was the fact that Heatley was actually doing ok with the Wild at the time. I say ok because A-at least he was playing, and B- while his days as a 50+ point scorer seem to be over, the guy was still leading the wild in pretty much every statistical way. At the close of regular season Havlat had only played 39 games, scored seven goals, and had a combined total 27 points…ouch in more than one way. Heatley saw all 82 games where he scored 24 goals and stacked up 53 points. We definitely could have used some of those out here in SJ…but his performance in MN is still proof of a decline in his play as he didn’t improve on his numbers there.
Granted, I’m sort of playing the “What If” game here…because had we not traded Heatley for Havlat, Havlat probably wouldn’t have been hurt and would’ve had the ability to snipe enough goals to bring the Wild into playoff contention and we would’ve had an additional 17 or so goals go in the net. Again, this is all speculation, and Heatley probably would’ve performed even worse here in California. I am not convinced that Heatley is a sub-par player; I actually think that he is quite talented…the problem is that he is #1 getting older and has been plagued by injury after injury, but #2, I also think his style of hockey isn’t easily adapted to some NHL systems out there. I truly believe that had he stayed with Ottawa he may still be a player worth watching and cheering for…but unfortunately, I think his days are numbered if he doesn’t get into a groove and get into it quickly.
I had a conversation regarding Heatley earlier this season and the consensus we reached was that he simply didn’t fit here in San Jose, and it seems he may not be fitting in so well in Minnesota either…good player and by all accounts a great guy…but a great guy who may be looking at hanging up the skates sooner rather than later if he doesn’t learn to adjust to the systems he is being asked to play in. So if you are wondering what the “Say What?!” portion of this is, it’s for this statement “Dany Heatley Sucks!”…because I don’t believe Heatley sucks, I think he just doesn’t fit in.
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