It's been two weeks since Dany Heatley twice declined to accept a trade to Edmonton that would have Andrew Cogliano, Dustin Penner and Ladislav Smid to Ottawa. I'm not going to lie, initially I was furious. The idea of freeing up $2.117M in cap space while simultaneously acquiring a young promising talent like Cogliano, excited me to no end. Anxiously awaiting Dany's decision by refreshing TSN's homepage every couple minutes, only to find out both times he nixed the deal (for now), brought about a rage in me I never knew existed. How could a player who wanted out so badly and requests a trade, not accept one when presented to him? One word came to mind... selfish.
After taking my frustrations out on some poor forward's calves (who was trying to screen me) with multiple slashes during a ball hockey game, my rage started to settle. I made the decision to be calm and collected before I formed an opinion as to why Dany vetoed a trade to Edmonton twice. I don't fully understand why he requested a trade in the first place, but I doubt anyone outside of "the Heatley camp" ever will. There has to be something more to it than his ice time being cut back and being demoted to the 2nd PP unit. Those are things that can be discussed in the off-season and earned back with good play. But that's another topic for another blog.
I started to read article after article, reading opinions and views from all sides and angles about the situation. What I came to realize, is that this is a decision that affects the next five years of his career and life. Not just his life though, but that of his girlfriend, as well as both of their families. It is decision of great magnitude, and although he did request a trade, is is not a decision that can be made in five hours, or after "sleeping on it".
Dany was told by his agents Brian Murray would present at least a couple options before the "deadline". He had prepared himself for the fast approaching deadline, but thought he would have more than one choice so he could weigh the pros and cons of each one and make the selection he felt was best for he and his family. When he was informed there was only one deal in place and it was with Edmonton, I feel he genuinely was "blindsided". Dany goes from thinking he is going to have at least a few options to consider, down to one... quite the shock. To hear "It's this or nothing. Oh, and by the way you have until midnight to decide." That's a ton of pressure.
Is this why J.P. Barry publicly attacked Brian Murray when he stated he felt Murray didn't try hard enough with other teams and only wanted to talk with Edmonton? It seemed a bit like saving face for J.P. Barry, as Dany probably questioned where the other offers where. And J.P. Barry, instead of admitting he might've embellished about more offers, blamed Murray.
What if Dany had been told earlier Edmonton was the frontrunner, and it looks like he could become an Oiler if he wanted. Would we still be in this stalemate? What if Dany had sufficient time from say the 29th of June to think about Edmonton and only Edmonton? To call up Tambellini, Quinn and maybe some friends who play(ed) there to ask questions, would he have accepted? The pros far outweigh the cons for Edmonton as it is a first class organization with a rich tradition, the city breathes hockey as do the fans, all of his friends and family would be extremely close and the organization obviously want him, which would make any player feel good. The cons for Edmonton would be it's cold in the winter and is a smaller city. Well it's friggin cold in Ottawa too, and it's population is only about 100,000 bigger... not that dramatic of a change.
So then why didn't Dany accept the trade to Edmonton? My opinion is I feel his agents gave him bad advice. Telling him to wait a bit because teams from "the list" would eventually make legit offers.
Let's take a closer look at the teams on the list. When you glance at it, there doesn't seem to be much logic or sensibility in it. Right away after composing the list, Dany had to know several of the teams were not going to show any interest. At the time of the request, most of the teams were up near the cap ceiling and had their own FA's to worry about. Also, who's to say if one or any of the teams on the list were/are interested in Dany? Just because they are Dany's preferred destination by no means makes the feeling mutual.
Here are the teams on Dany's list:
Detroit: Ken Holland was already looking to clear cap space to make room for Marian Hossa but wasn't able to do so. The only way was to move other star players and Holland wasn't prepared to do that. If he wasn't going to move players for Hossa at $5M, he certainly wasn't going to do it for Dany at $7.5M. Detroit never was an option.
New York Rangers: Glen Sather initially had no salary cap space to take on Dany's contract but ended up freeing up some by trading Gomez. They weren't willing to part with Marc Staal and therefor couldn't beat Edmonton's offer. New York ended up signing Marian Gaborik and are now focusing on a playmaking centre. New York is no longer an option.
Chicago: Dale Tallon has assembled a roster full of young promising talent that made it to the Conference Finals this past post-season. He needed to replace Havlat and opted to sign Marian Hossa who's cap hit is $2.27M less than Heatley'. Tallon also didn't have to give up any players from his roster to sign Hossa. Unless Brian Murray is willing to take Brian Campbell as part of the return, Chicago is not an option.
Boston: Bob Chiarelli is going to have to trade away a player or two just to free up space to sign Phil Kessel as well as fill out the rest of his roster. He would have to seriously alter the roster that finished 1st in the Eastern Conference this past season just to take on Heatley's salary. That reason, along with the fact Brian Murray won't trade Heatley to a division rival means Boston never was an option.
Los Angeles: Dean Lombardi had apparently kicked the tires about Dany. There were even rumors about the 5th overall pick and Alexander Frolov coming back to Ottawa. But from the beginning, Assistant GM Ron Hextall had some "red flags raised" about Dany which seemed to stall negotiations. LA instead traded for Ryan Smyth without having to give up anyone from their young core. Los Angeles is no longer an option.
Vancouver: I don't really know if Mike Gillis was ever interested to begin with, but after hearing what Murray probably wanted in return, I don't think he is anymore. Vancouver only has a few players Brian Murray would be interested in (Bieska, Edler, Kelser, Hodgson) and they are most likely all deemed as untouchables. Vanvouver never was an option.
Calgary: Darryl Sutter had his mind set going into the draft that he needed to fix the defense which was the Flames achilles heal last season. He went out and acquired the rights to Jay Bouwmeester and signed him a couple days later. Sutter never seemed to be interested in bringing in another high scoring forward and now with Bouwmeester signed, he has no cap space to do so. The only way he could bring in Dany would be to trade away one of his big defenseman, which Darryl obviously isn't going to do with that being the area he wanted to address. Calgary never was an option.
San Jose: I originally thought San Jose would be the team to step up from the get-go with a solid deal. They are coming off another very disappointing post-season and GM Doug Wilson said that cultural changes were to be expected. They do have several players to include in a package, (Marleau, Clowe, Michalek, Pavelski, Cheechoo, Couture, McGinn, Ehrhoff) but so far no formal offer has been made. Both teams have serious cap issues and San Jose would need to trade dollar for dollar with Ottawa, which would leaves Ottawa over the cap still. Because Ottawa payed Dany his bonus, they now want the team they trade with to take on additional salary, something San Jose couldn't do. Unless San Jose clears cap space via another trade first, no deal is going to happen. San Jose is still an option.
Minnesota: Ottawa wants Brent Burns and Chuck Fletcher won't part with him. Aside from Burns, Minnesota doesn't have very many trade chips. Unless Fletcher finally gives in and puts Burns into the package (which won't happen), Heatley won't be dealt to the Wild. Minnesota is not an option.
Anaheim: Bob Murray traded Chris Pronger to free up cap space just to sign Scott Niedermayer. Murray also isn't going to give up either Bobby Ryan or Corey Perry as some suggested. Anaheim was never an option.
Aside from Dany's list, there are nineteen other teams in the league who could be a trade partner, but how many are legitimate ones? We know Dany won't accept a trade back to Atlanta. Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Washington are all up near the cap ceiling. Colorado, Phoenix, Nashville, Florida and Tampa all have budgets, and it's highly unlikely they would take on a $7.5M contract. Brian Murray is not going to deal to a division rival, counts out Montreal, Toronto and Buffalo. New York Islanders and St. Louis are rebuilding with youth via the draft. St. Louis especially, who's strong rebuild led them to a playoff appearance this past spring.
This leaves us with six teams:Carolina, Columbus, Dallas, Edmonton, New Jersey and San Jose. Out of these six, only four has shown interest, only one has made a significant offer and only on is on Dany's list.
Sooner or later Dany must realize it's been two weeks and counting and there has still only been one offer. He must realize there is only one team from his list that is still showing interest that could lead to a trade. But most of all he must realize that his agents are feeding him a load of hogwash and empty promises and face reality... it might very well be Edmonton or nothing.