Heatley and history

 

Two months since a news leak that Dany Heatley wanted to be traded from the Senators, precious little has changed ... except that he is that much closer to remaining a Senator.

 
 
 
 
 

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Two months since a news leak that Dany Heatley wanted to be traded from the Senators, precious little has changed ... except that he is that much closer to remaining a Senator.

Heatley still wants out, presumably, though the two-time 50-goal scorer has not expressed his thoughts publicly during this ordeal.

Fans who left on vacation while the Edmonton Oilers were the lone team expressing serious interest in Heatley and his $7.5 million U.S. salary-cap hit returned to find the San Jose Sharks were now the lone team probing a deal.

With NHL training camps around the corner, odds are probably 50-50 that something can be consummated before September.

Though one wouldn't know it by listening to the Ottawa call-in shows, Heatley is hardly the first star athlete to want to be traded from a team that secured him with a long-term contract.

For nearly two full years, the dominant story in the NBA centred around Kobe Bryant and his very public demand to be traded from the Los Angeles Lakers. On the list of tired acts in sport, Kobe's off-and-on trade demand was second only to Brett (Will He or Won't He Retire?) Favre.

It's easy to forget those Kobe stories now because, in the style of Michael Jordan, Bryant carried those same Lakers on his shoulders to the 2009 NBA championship.

Now, Heatley is not Kobe Bryant and hockey is not basketball, where one or two personnel changes can make the difference in a title run.

What is relevant is that Kobe survived the hype about his wish to move if the team did not change direction.

Could Heatley possibly return to the Senators and lead a normal life as a contributing person and player on a rebuilding franchise?

Absolutely.

Think back to some of the things Kobe said during his miserable days in 2007 and 2008.

"I would like to be traded, yeah," Bryant said. "Tough as it is to come to that conclusion, there's no other alternative. It's rough, man, but I don't see how you can rebuild that trust. I just don't know how you can move forward in that type of situation."

No other alternative.

Didn't see how to regain "trust."

Far beyond Heatley's relatively mild hints at displeasure with the direction of the franchise and head coach Cory Clouston, Bryant was aiming double barrels at management. He wanted a coup, with general manager Mitch Kupchak replaced by former Lakers GM Jerry West.

Consider that for a moment. Imagine the reaction if Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson stood up in the dressing room one day and said that Bryan Murray should be replaced as the lead hockey man by Steve Yzerman. And then, when no change is made, staying on as the leader and top player on the team.

It happened in L.A.

In the spring of 2007, Bryant ripped into an organization that had been one of the most glorious in NBA history, with players such as West, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Wilt Chamberlain.

"I want to see us get to a contending level," Bryant told the Los Angeles Times. "I want to see us become a championship contender. It has been a frustrating process for me and I'm sure it has been a frustrating process for all Lakers fans. I'm just hoping we can get to that level. I'm still frustrated. I'm waiting for them to make some changes."

West did not return, but the Lakers traded for some key players, including seven-foot centre Paul Gasol, and role players Shannon Brown and Adam Morrison.

Today, the questions around Kobe involve his place among the all-time greats. The wonder is no longer if Kobe will be traded, but if the Lakers can repeat.

Then there is the curious case of Manny Ramirez, the guy who makes Dany being Dany seem a trifle lame by comparison.

As certain as spring is followed by the mid-summer trade deadline, Ramirez and his agent, Scott Boras, schemed to get Man-Ram out of Boston. Ramirez was a big part of the Red Sox championship season in 2004, ending the curse of the Bambino, yadah yadah, but, by 2005, Ramirez was miffed at the Sox for making his trade request public. He would later sell his Boston condo and threaten to skip all of training camp if the Sox didn't move him and his $20-million-per-year contract.

Manny was rumoured to be headed to the New York Mets, then to Baltimore, but by 2006 he had told the club he now wanted to stay in Boston, even as his agents suggested he was still available for trade.

So it was that Ramirez remained with the Sox for another World Series in 2007. Manny being Manny, he got into verbal altercations with teammates, and had to apologize for physically shoving the team's travel secretary.

In the end, Ramirez and the Red Sox were both happy to see him become a Dodger in 2008, not before he was part of two championship seasons with an organization he had wanted to be traded from for a very long time.

While the Heatley situation is best resolved by moving him, he could come back under this three-part action plan.

1. SPEAK (and be free):

Had Heatley suffered through just one media conference this summer, he could have been a free man, free to walk the streets without fear of a reporter leaping from the bush, free to attend buddy Jason Spezza's wedding, free to speak at the OneGoal hockey summit (he has withdrawn), free to go the Olympic orientation camp without a major fuss. Instead, he is a prisoner of his own silence.

2. BE HONEST (like Kobe):

If Heatley's concerns involve the direction of the organization and not just his personal situation, he will have an audience. There are plenty of fans upset with the Senators' decline since 2007. If Heatley were perceived to have a legitimate issue, and didn't come off the way he is being depicted by fans and media -- ie. selfish -- it would be easier for him to function here or wherever he may land. Speak from the heart, apologize for becoming a distraction. He can be forgiven.

3. BE FLEXIBLE:

Your time will come. As it did for Manny Ramirez. Manny stuck it out for a few years, won two world titles and today is adored in L.A. despite a positive test for a female fertility drug. If Manny can find peace, why can't Dany? Miracles do happen. Restless Kobe found peace (and champagne) with the team he vowed to leave.

 
 
 
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