Let the record show that when the Ottawa Senators host the San Jose Sharks tomorrow night, it will have been 447 days since they traded star winger Dany Heatley to the Sharks in the most acrimonious transaction in team history.
We’re willing to bet that Heatley is even more despised in Ottawa than Alexei Yashin was. That’s because with Yashin, it was all about money. With Zdeno Chara and Wade Redden, it was an organizational decision. One was really bad (choosing Redden over Chara) and one was good (allowing Redden to walk).
But when Heatley demanded a trade two summers ago, it was a rejection of the team, the franchise, the city and the coach.
That hurts. We get that. We also get that most of those in attendance will be compelled to boo their lungs out every time Heatley goes near the puck. And should Chris Neil add to his team-leading 66 hits by plastering Heatley into the boards a couple of times over the course of the evening, the cheers will be even louder.
Yes, it was borderline personal with Ottawa. And that’s exactly why it will be personal when Heatley returns.
The chatrooms and websites seem to have all kinds of theories on why Heatley really left Ottawa, but there has never been any indication that it was nothing other than Heatley not feeling the love from coach Cory Clouston and wanting out purely for hockey reasons.
The fact that Heatley put up 39 goals with the Sharks last season and went into last night’s game against the Detroit Red Wings on pace for a 41-goal year this season hurts, particularly when Jonathan Cheechoo appears to have fallen off the face of the earth.
Milan Michalek hasn’t been bad for the Senators, but does young Logan Couture, who played his junior hockey with the Ottawa 67’s, look good in a Senators uniform right about now?
So boo away, Ottawa fans. Get all this acrimony off your chests. The fact of the matter is Heatley signed a contract with the Senators in good faith, then stiffed the organization and left it in an almost untenable position. For that he should be booed lustily. Then when the night is over everybody, including Heatley, can move on with their lives.
Oh yeah, and let’s keep it clean, too.