Friday, August 21, 2009

Heatley Presser: My Take

What do I think of Dany Heatley's explanations for wanting out of Ottawa?

I guess I believe him.

A lot of people seem predictably angry that he didn't drop a bombshell such as not getting along with teammates or hating the city or his girlfriend hating the city or something sleazy and headline grabbing. They claim that he must be hiding something unsavoury.

Sometimes the truth is boring.

I believe Heatley when he says it's purely a hockey decision. I believe his claims and his teammates claims that he is a good guy and a positive presence in the locker room. Steve Yzerman wouldn't have chosen him to represent Canada in the Olympics if that wasn't the case. Heatley has always served Hockey Canada with pride and distinction.

I believe his claims that he didn't leak the trade request and that he's genuinely upset at the way it has played out in the public.

To me, this is just another case of a hockey player being unhappy with his role on a team and asking for a trade. It happens all the time in the NHL, much more than people realize.

If Heatley says he wants a bigger role on the Senators than Cory Clouston is willing to give him, then it makes sense that he asked for a trade. And it would have even made sense if GM Bryan Murray was the one to initiate the trade talk. There's no sense in having a franchise player and a head coach pulling in two different directions.

Everyone will take the coach's side no matter what the truth is because fans just don't like rich hockey players, plain and simple. Most journalists don't either.

But the reality is never as black and white as it seems. No one can claim to be 100 percent right in a situation like this. But the Senators made a commitment to Cory Clouston (who has proven to be successful at his job) and they have to back him up, even if it costs them one of the league's only consistent 50 goal scorers.

I don't think Heatley's decision to ask for a trade was a good one, but who am I to pretend to know what goes on in Heatley's life and to think that I know what's right for him.

I just don't see any hidden drama here. Heatley has always been a quality player and a quality individual, but business is business.

Heatley is trying to do what is best for his career, as he sees it. Whether you like it or not doesn't really make a difference. The NHL runs on the same principles that our society does - a regulated free market where individuals can largely choose the way and the location where they make their living.

You can try and pretend that your favourite hockey players will play for free and in your city simply for the love of the game, but you'd be living in a fantasy land.

I don't agree with Heatley but I'm not going to froth at the mouth with endless fury over what is an entirely reasonable and common practice of asking for a trade due to unhappiness.

You can. I won't.

I have better things to worry about. Don't you?


hambown said...

I have better things to worry about. Don't you?

Well said, and yes. However, I can't help but thinking that this is much ado about nothing. If Heatley is genuinely concerned at his role being diminished, couldn't he work something out with Clouston? They're all adults, and Heatley certainly has the skills to be a more complete player. Instead of asking for a trade, why not commit to playing in a slightly different role? It wouldn't be drastic. He's too good of a player to lost significant ice time, or be used as a checker. Why not work hard on improving his skating and conditioning and audition for some limited PK time? Or something, I don't know.

Does anyone else see that asking to be moved implies he wasn't willing to compromise, which is at odds with his desire for an expanded role on the team?

Anonymous said...

Really man, this "reduced role" stuff i BS. The team signed him as their highest paid player. He is the go-to winger on the first line (often the top line in the league). And they gave him an A on his Jersey last year. The only thing that happened at the end of last year was being moved to the second pp to dispearse the offense, and maybe a drop in overall ice time. But it made a much better overall powerplay and more goals for Danny. But this slightly, temporarily, and short-term, reduced role was also largely a response to DH not playing hard. This stuff happens all the time and players don't demand a trade. No man, don't buy it. He didn't like Clouston demanding effort and accountability and not taking shit from him. It was going to be Clouston's team (as it should be) and not Danny's. I cannot imagine there was a meeting in which Cloustin and Murray sat Danny down and said "listen, I know we pay you more than anyone else and we put an A on you, and you are our All-Star winger, and you score more than anybody on the team, but we would like you to play a diminished role from here on in". Pre BS, it is something other than a diminished role - likely his ego smashed up against Cloustin demanding accountablilty.


Anonymous said...

The way I see it, Heatley wants everything given to him because he's a "skilled" 50 goal scorer. He's not willing to work for it. Did Mark Messier and Wendal Clark not work for everything the got? They didn't just assume, did they? And was Heatley's role really that diminished? He was on the top line with Spezza, he was on the top pp unit if you asked me(they sure did produce more than the other one) and he had an "A". What was diminished? Maybe I'm wrong?

Ryan from Hy's

Anonymous said...

Does he want the "C"?

Ryan again.

Oman said...

As always, Mr. Milks, you are the voice of sympathetic reason. Though I don't always agree, it is a refreshing change from all the sensationalist/reactionist blogging out there.

While Heatley may in fact be telling the truth (I think he is too), he did display signs of an enormous ego in his teleconference. Take the Brennan exchange: though Don is a shit disturber and seems to have a hate on for millionaire athletes, a well adjusted person with a head on his shoulders could have easily said that he would live with it if he lost the "A" (I believe Marleau has said something already to that effect...). Instead, Heatley showed he was angry and wouldn't communicate and his handler had to step in. If this is how he deals with disputes with coaches, teammates etc... I'm not sure he's the great guy he says he is. His answers were focussed around becoming the best HE can be. Not much team player stuff to read into the little substance he gave us.

Oman said...

Just listened to Murray's response to Brennan's question. Like NIGHT and DAY. Heatley is clearly outclassed in this dispute. Hire all the slick, yet half witted agents you want, but don't a fuck with the Bryan!

Oman said...

Wow! It's like poetry:

canucnik said...


Bravo! Encore...Encore!

Anonymous said...

I agree 100%.

There´s probably a confluence of issues that explain why he wants out. But, the bottom line is that he wants out, and he has a right to ask his way out.

I don´t like the sideshow that gets created by the press over this issue.

Oman, cut the guy a break. He´s not a politician. So he doesn´t handle every question very well. So what? He´s good at his job, playing hockey.

The Sens management is a joke. I´d want out too. If you look at Nortel in Ottawa, all the best people left long before the ship sank. The best are always the first to leave, contrary to the myth that people like to propogate about commitment.

Commitment comes into play if you have a meaningful shot at helping to change things. The current management team is all about control. Unless you´re part of their inner circle, you are just a hired hand and expected to do as told. They don´t want your opinion.

Jeremy Milks said...

Ryan, I agree with you. I think Heatley is wrong when he says his role has been reduced. I think he's overreacting due to pride etc. People don't think with reason and logic when their pride is hurt.

I still think it's possible to bring the two sides together and work out the issues.

But giving Heatley a letter on his jersey is probably not going to happen, and for good reason. Fisher should get the other "A", clearly.

Are you working tonight? I might drop by for a cold one on my way to a show at Babylon.

Anonymous said...

Jeremy, your blog is the 1st sane and rational blog I have read on the subject, and I agree 100%.

It has nothing to do with the fans, or the media. Brennan is a dick. And so was "Shin-kicker", for that matter.

Why in the world would you expect a good answer as a journalist, if you're a wise cracking smart ass journalist being a prick? Breenan, and his ilk get to call him names, and smear him through the mud all they want, with no reprocusions, and for what, because Dany is looking out for himself? Sure, I thought some poeple found it funny, but if you want honest answers or even poeple to respond to you, treat them professionally at least. They may not answer your question directly, but at least they will give your question some attention.

The thing that I find intriquing is that Dany's feelings about his diminished role on the team started around the time Brian Murray became GM. Heatley had to endure the coaching incompetencies of Paddock, and Hartsburg over that time. People can disagree with me about Hartsburg, but he proved he wasn't able to coach at the NHL level, AGAIN.

Heatley still got his ice time under those coaches, and finally, when Clouston came in and took no bs, things really rankled. You see Clouston doesn't fraternize with the players. They are not his friends. Correct me if I am wrong here, but Paddock, and Hartsburg did somewhat, or at least they wouldn't ride the star players hard.

So, whatever is eating Dany, and has been for two years, would likely be some kind of beef with the big boss.

It is a little ironic that at the same time this is going on, our twin franchise on the West coast, has an inverse situation going on with one of their leaders. Marleau was stripped of his "C", but it is not as big a story, since Marleau with his NMC didn't ask to be traded. Will Marleau stay, and play in shame?

Will Heatley come back, and play in shame after asking to leave when the team didn't seem to have a problem with him?

It is hard for people to understand the "hockey" part of it, because hockey player's lives are so public, and they make so much dough. But if you take that away, you realize that they are looking out for number one, and why wouldn't they? Who else is going to?

I don't agree with Heatley on this one, but I don't begrudge him wanting to look out for himself as he sees fit. Its his life after all. His actions dictate his fate, not mine, or anyone else's.

Everyone has reacted like they were just betrayed by their significant other, get a grip.

The Sens and Heatley, will get it sorted out either with us, or somewhere else, and life will go on ...


Brian5or6 said...

Heatley is my favourite person and now I cry every night. My mom says I cry cause I am a bitch. Also,my dad says he may build me a rink when winter comes but I don't believe him cause he's drunk.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree. Long time coming for Fisher! but I have a sneaking suspicion they give it to Spezza? If there is any positive that has come out of this Heatley situation, is that Spezza is now viewed as a saint. Wierd? Remember when this city wanted to cut his head off and parade it around on a stick(figuratively speaking).

Ryan from Hy's
Ps - wasn't working last night but i am tonight working bar.

phil said...

i see your point about heatley not deserving to be run through the ringer, but is it really that shocking? the only reason this has become such a fiasco is because we've been handed it to chew on all summer, where most years we have next to nothing.. last year the ruutu signing was centre of attention - in comparison, it was the diet coke of controversy.

this year we have this great big juicy soap opera to keep us entertained, so why not discuss it til we're all blue in the face? that's what we do as sports fans in off-seasons - we find the sickest horse in town and we beat the hell out of it. you think they're not still dissecting favre in minnesota, or shaq in cleveland?

so to answer the question, 'don't you have better things to worry about?'

nope, not really. it's august and i don't watch baseball.

Anonymous said...

I don´t know that his explanations are entirely truthful. They may be.

My take is that the truth is difficult to tell in these types of circumstances, so both parties do their best to put forth a story that is politically acceptable.

To me, all that matters is that he wants out. I don´t think that he owes anybody an explanation. He has a right to look after his own interests.

I like the fact that he scores a lot of goals. So, I hope he stays with the Sens. At the same time, I think that he´ll be moved at the trade deadline to SJ, if he´s still unhappy at that point.

Anonymous said...

I gotta wonder about Heater's agent. He is the conduit for negotiations. Maybe he leaked the trade talk for some misguided strategic advantage.

Plus he did not prepare Heater well for the press conference and if he isn't knowledgeable about PR, he should have connected Heater to someone who is. Heater looked defensive- why wouldn't he be?

He has never had a reputation as a Prima Dona in the dressing room, so why are we so quick to assume the worst now?

And the momentum shift when Clousten showed up might be more attributed to who wasn't there than who was.There is no evidence Heater has been difficult with any other coach- maybe we might better wonder about what Mr. Clousten had to say that might have caused his loss of credibility to someone who is a pretty smart hockey player, than to wonder if Dany Heatley is a public pouter.

Anonymous said...

This whole thing about "who leaked what" is crazy.

The way I see it, Heatley and his agents have more of a reason to leak this than Ottawa does.

Heatley and his agents are the ones who want as many options presented to them as possible. So by leaking that Heatley wants to be traded publicly, every team now knows. Instead of Ottawa doing quietly with, lets just say, Edmonton.

So either Heatley is lying or he was lied to?

Ryan Hy's

Anonymous said...

anon @ 1:51pm

I don´t know who did the leaking, but your theory is too rational.

In my view, in professional sports and the corporate world in general, decision making is not always that rational. For less confident managers, there´s always an element of "cover your ass".

If Murray were to trade Heatley quietly, he would face the second guessing of fans, even if he told them that Heatley asked for a trade.

By leaking, he gets the fans angry at Heatley first, arranges a trade that he knows Heatley will refuse, which angers the fans even more, which then effectively "covers his ass". He will face a lot less critisism for any deal now.

Before trading Mez, he did something similar. It was leaked that Mez was looking for $5M a year. The fans expressed anger that Mez was not worth that much. Of course, now we know he signed for $4M a year.

I don´t know who did the leaking, but I think that incentives for leaking can be found for each side. Disincentives can also be found for each side. It all depends on how each individual frames the problem in his/her own head.

One thing is clear, the right thing to do is for each side to keep it quiet. That´s best for the Sens to get maximum value, and also for Heatley´s reputation.

But that´s also too rational.

Anonymous said...


You make some good points.

My thoughts on them would be that Murray, or any GM for that matter, is going to be second guessed by fans.

If any player asks for a trade(it doesn't matter who leaks it)is going to condemed by the fans and hated. Fans take that as if thier best friend just stabbed them in the back.

I also don't believe that Murray will receive "less critism for any deal now" because of Edmonton. People either hate or love Murray and whatever he does isn't going to change the way they view him. Remeber Muckler! People who love him will remember him for taking us to the finals. Haters will remember him as the guy who crashed and burned this franchise into what it is today. Stripping it of all its talent and prospects, only to leave it shattered, broke and torn for Murray or whoever to pick the pieces up slowly one by one.

Ryan Hy's