I took some time this morning to listen to an interview between Oilers Assistant GM Kevin Prendergast and Dan Tencer, from the voice of the Oilers, 630 CHED radio. Entertaining? Perhaps. Enlightening? No.
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Slightly below the interview link the Oilers have also posted a blog written by Bob Stauffer, Color Analyst from 630 CHED. His piece is more entertaining than the Tencer interview, thanks to the propoganda factor of the article. It seems clear and obvious to everyone montioring the situation that the Oilers brass are putting other matters on hold while continuing to wait for Heatley to make a decision. The clock may be ticking on the deal, but if there was no want to add Dany, there would be no need to post such clear pro-Heatley rhetoric.
Many Oiler fans, while they love the talent Heatley would bring with him to the team, are against the trade occurring. Simply put, Oiler fans are sick and tired of players bashing the city, and refusing to play here. The last thing anyone wants is another Pronger situation.
What makes Stauffer's article so asinine is the suggestion that the Oilers would be fools not to pursue the opportunity to land Heatley. Statistically speaking, Dany's goal scoring numbers are comparable to only two or three other players in the league. Players like that don't become available every day, and the Oilers have been without an elite forward since Mark Messier left in the early 90's. Absolutely, the trade would clearly benefit the team IF Heatley was interested in actually playing there.
The problem with Stauffer's argument is that he underestimates the fans' intelligence in respect to their own team. Absolutely, everyone loves to cheer for a winner, but at what cost? If we were talking about Pronger being moved to Edmonton instead of Heatley, fans would be going mental. It wouldn't matter if Pronger was the top defenseman in the league, nor would it matter if he made the Oilers a top team. People would not be able to see past how he treated the fans, the team, and the city in the past. Most Oiler fans want a team that can win AND is worth cheering for. Pronger could apologize a thousand times, and fans in Edmonton would still never accept him.
Heatley would bring with him a reputation of a player who does not get along with coaches and management. He is more than willing to demand to be traded if something rubs him the wrong way. And aside from his history on and off the ice, everyone knows that if he did come to Edmonton, he'd be doing so practically against his will. Because there are no other options.
Oil fans, ask yourself this: Is the timebomb-in-waiting named Dany Heatley really what the Oilers need? Consider the composition of the rest of the team. The Oilers are one of the youngest teams in the league, with a number of promising prospects only being a year or two away from the NHL. Would you rather new players spend their time with Dany Heatley, or Andrew Cogliano, who, if you believe what is said about him, is one of the finest people in hockey?
One of the elements that made the Oilers dynasty from the 1980's so enduring to fans is that it was a group of young players born into the NHL in Edmonton, stayed with the team for many years, and lived with pride and honor to be Oilers. Maybe on paper Gagner, Cogliano, Eberle, Petry and Paajarvi don't compare to Gretzky, Kurri, Messier, Anderson and Coffey, but in time, this will be a solid team. Almost every Oiler fan believes that the young core which has been assembled is two or three years away from greatness. Now is not the time to undermine the heart of the team by adding a malcontent.
The fate of this situation is in the hands of Dany Heatley, and it appears likely that he will return to the Ottawa Senators next season. As for the Oilers, they have too many players under contract, are needing two Top 6 forwards, a shutdown Center that can win face-offs, and they have to move at least one quality blueliner to make room for Peckham or Chorney to cut their NHL teeth. Will the current roster be the team that goes into training camp in September? Don't count on it.
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