First off, happy Canada Day to everyone.
Now down to business. I know I am supposed to be writing about baseball but I cannot help but weigh in on the Dany Heatley drama in Ottawa, because it does have an effect on professional sports in general.
Last year, Heatley signed a six year, $45 million extension with the Senators. After honouring one year of his contract, he decided that he wanted out of Ottawa due to a decreased role under new head coach Cory Clouston. Heatley placed the Senators in a difficult sitiation for several reasons. First of all, he made the trade request public, decreasing Ottawa’s trading leverage. Secondly, he is owed a $4 million roster bonus at midnight tonight, which left the Senators only a couple of weeks to find a trade partner. If they are forced to pay him his bonus (which is half of his salary for the year), they have stated they will not move him. And finally, he has a no-trade clause, and has refused to accept a trade to certain teams. I am sorry Dany, but when you request a trade publicly, you do not get to pick what team you go to. That is what free agency is for, not trade requests.
Heatley has essentially spit in the face of the franchise that rescued him from the nightmares of Atlanta, where he could not get over the guilt of killing teammate and friend Dan Snyder in a car accident. They kept him out of the media spotlight while he completed his community service and even hired a chauffeur for him while his driver’s license was suspended. And this is how he repays them?
Luckily for Ottawa, they did find a team willing to give them a solid package for Heatley. The Edmonton Oilers offered underachieving but high potential forward Dustin Penner, speedster Andrew Cogliano and big defenceman Ladislav Smid in return for Heatley. The two teams agreed to the deal Tuesday night, but Heatley is not sure if he wants to accept it or not. Edmonton is not on his list of preferred destinations, and he is most likely waiting for other offers that Ottawa might accept. If push comes to shove and this is the only offer that Ottawa is willing to accept, Heatley might bite the bullet and move to Northern Alberta.
As a die-hard Oilers fan, all I can say is no way! This guy obviously has character issues, and does not want to be in Edmonton, not unlike a good majority of NHL players. However, the Oilers are also in a difficult predicament. They reportedly told their three players to pack their bags for Ottawa before the trade was official. If they back out of the deal now, that could lead to some serious resentment from these guys.
No matter what happens, this situation is exactly what is wrong with pampered athletes. They use their superstar status to push the hands of their teams. Three years ago, Pronger did the exact same thing to Edmonton, and they received a pupu platter in return for one of the best defenseman in the league.
First key point: Do not make your trade request public. You are already hurting your team by making them trade you, and now you want to hurt them further by lowering their bargaining power. Nothing makes you look like a bigger jerk than going to the media.
Second key point: I just lied. Heatley proved that you can be a bigger jerk. He not only requested a trade but submitted a list of teams that he would accept a trade to. Not even Manny did that when he was trying to get out of Boston last year. Absolutely despicable.
Despite his obvious on-ice skills, I hope to never see Heatley wearing the proud copper and blue of the Oilers. He has asked to be traded from the only two NHL teams he has ever played for, and I am sure he will do it again with Edmonton. I also hope that it is a long time before we see another professional athlete pull a stunt like this.