by SENShobo on 06/10/09 at 12:54 AM ET
But TSN confirmed. Let the speculation and chatter begin.
With Hossa still loving Detroit, Bouwmeester still unproven in rougher divisions, markets, and the playoffs, and the Sedins an expensive package, Heatley immediately becomes one of the most attractive options for the summer splash. Forget a ‘pithy’ 39-goal season on a team that was the butt of every joke; even with that he’s still holding a four-season average in Ottawa of 45 goals and 90+ points, including over a point-per-game in the playoffs over three seasons.
Why would he want to leave? It could be the mumbles about Clouston’s style and direction not meshing well with Heatley, but don’t stop thinking there. He’s as disappointed as anyone in his season, as well aware as any that he can and will do better. At the 2003 All-Star Game, which he took by storm as the youngest four-goal scorer ever at the event, “He is only going to good things for our league,” said Roenick of Heatley, “He’s a better person than he is hockey player.” He took over Redden’s ‘A’ this season, but he has never quite been able to find a completely comfortable place for himself since his trials. With a reported desire to move to the Western Conference, you’d be hard pressed to get further away from the reminders, Emery’s vacation not included.
Then there’s the matter of what Murray has to do. The fans have asked for his head, and they aren’t the only ones wondering about changes. Maybe, just maybe, Heatley saw this as a way to give Spezza, Alfie, and Fisher a break, all of whom have stronger roots in the valley. There was no way Murray could trade Alfie, Fisher’s made himself nearly untradeable with his contract and performance this season a far larger risk than Heatley’s in proportion, and as much as fans gripe about Spezza it’s far harder to find a quality pivot than a sniper.
Why the Western Conference? Good luck trying to convince Murray to trade you within the division, or getting Heatley to waive his still-active clause to return to the Southeast, and there is no team in the Atlantic who could seal the deal. Who in the West could take him though? Leclaire has Ottawa set in net, so no goalie will do the trick (barring a blogger fantasy trade packaging the two for an auspiciously good deal). Alfie, Spezza, Fisher, Foligno, Shannon, and (if signed) Comrie have given the team solid potential for Clouston to work with throughout a season. Phillips, Volchenkov, Smith, Picard, Lee, Bell (RFA), Campoli, Kuba, and youngins’ knockin’ on the door.
Something has to give.
Defensemen will be traded, a goalie will likely be traded, and whichever you think Schubert does best, that position will also lose another member. There’s simply too much to move forward with, and you can bet that Murray would want entry-level deal players or picks, but the cap is scaring everyone, especially the teams likely to have the space and need for a winger like Heatley. Likely, at best, you will see another change-of-scenery-needed player coming back, with some more defensemen going out perhaps for picks, making my trip to Montreal for the draft a little bit more interesting, or packaged up for a forward who does not need to be shipped out.
All it really spells is trouble.
The recession, not going to end for a good while. The cap, not going to be at $56.7 million for a decent break. There is no good news until the CBA gets touched up down the road, or we all find a way to boost ludicrous American spending back to levels we will never see again. Is this hockey or a macro econ course?
What this does do, hopefully, is give Murray the direction he needed when looking to shape this team for a comeback next season. For all the times fans screamed for backcheking, forechecking, and defensive acumen, for all the posts, for creating a triumvirate of silent leaders, I find myself thinking more about Heatley’s future than what he will fetch.
“He is only going to good things for our league,” said Roenick of Heatley, “He’s a better person than he is hockey player.”
Best of luck, Heater.
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