Thank Goodness For The Professionals: Don Brennan on Dany Heatley

Jonathan Willis
June 12 2009 11:09AM

dany_heatley

Bloggers take a lot of abuse from main-stream media types for their attachments to the teams they cover. I get it; a professional, objective tone is the way to discuss a sports team – at least, if a writer wants to be taken seriously – and many bloggers struggle to maintain that objectivity.

Unfortunately, the same things that would land a blogger in hot water or undermine his reputation are often ignored when they show up in newsprint under the byline of an actual journalist. One particularly egregious example of this is the work getting produced by Don Brennan with regard to Dany Heatley’s trade request. Brennan is of course most famous for this suggestion that he made during the Senators-Penguins playoff series last year:

Crosby's got a bad RIGHT ankle? How will it stand up to a two-hander? The Senators have to find out…. As much as they will be looking for timely goaltending and scoring, the Senators need somebody to emerge as a modern-day Bobby Clarke. Maybe hockey historian Jason Spezza can explain to his teammates what the former Flyers captain did to Russian star Valeri Kharlamov when the latter had a bad ankle in the 1972 Summit Series. It's playoff time. Anything goes.

When Georges Laraque called Brennan “stupid” for making that suggestion, Brennan challenged him to say it to his face, which Laraque proceeded to do.

In any case, with this as background, it is perhaps unsurprising that Brennan – a man who embodies the spirit of the worst sort of hockey fan – isn’t taking Heatley’s trade request very well. Let’s start with yesterday’s column.

After suggesting that Bryan Murray should trade Heatley to the New York Islanders, Brennan explains the chief reason for such a move:

First of all, the spoiled, selfish suck-hole would hate it there.

Folks like Robin Brownlee have repeatedly reminded me that columnists aren’t expected to maintain objectivity; they’re supposed to present an opinion. This though, goes beyond that. It’s an assault on character, a vicious attack on a guy who has committed the unforgivable sin of requesting a trade, and it’s eerily reminiscent of fanboard reaction here in Edmonton when Chris Pronger was traded.

Brennan goes on to the second reason, which is basically that Charles Wang is crazy and if he liked Alexei Yashin he’ll probably like Dany Heatley too.

Brennan then explains why this is such a troubling decision for Heatley to make:

He has now asked for a trade from the only two NHL teams he's ever been on. He likes Ottawa and his teammates so much, yet just four seasons after the Senators gave him a new lease on life, he is ripping it up.

Heatley’s only been in Ottawa four years, and he wants a change already! It’s bizarre, of course, since four years isn’t enough time to judge anything. After all, we give Prime Ministers… well, never mind, I guess Canadians have judged the PM twice in those four years. Well, it isn’t like political parties judge their leaders in such a short… okay, so the federal Liberals are on their third leader in that time span. Then again, those are trivial items; where do affairs of state stand in comparison to a player deciding if he likes his hockey team or not?

As for his “new lease on life”, there’s no disputing that the Dan Snyder tragedy must have been a life-changing experience for Heatley. Then again, this isn’t like when Boston picked up Tim Thomas and gave him an NHL opportunity after years of roaming Europe and the minors; Heatley was already an established star, pursued by multiple teams, and Ottawa made the best offer. Then again, perhaps Heatley should be more grateful; after the Senators took that incredible leap of faith, it isn’t like he recorded multiple 50-goal, 100-point seasons… never mind.

Brennan says that the reason for Heatley’s request is uncertain, but that suggestions have been made that he doesn’t like new coach Cory Clouston. After slamming Heatley for putting himself above the team, Brennan offered this gem:

Is that really it, Dany? If so, you truly are one messed-up dude. If not, you better step up and explain what's what. Or we're left to believe it is so.

Guilty until proven innocent – fair enough; after all, I believe that our justice system is founded on the very same principle. Still, Brennan offers Heatley a chance to prove himself; it’s so nice to know that his mind isn’t already made up:

Yes, what's most important to Dany Heatley is now obvious. It's Dany Heatley.

Never mind, then. Still, perhaps stating in no uncertain terms that Heatley’s a selfish suck-hole who puts himself above the team isn’t enough to get the job off assassinating his character done. What further attack could be launched?

Only the Islanders, Kings, Coyotes, Thrashers, Predators and Maple Leafs are able to take on Heatley's salary without dumping some of their own. Of that group, he might consent to the Kings and Predators, where media coverage is minimal. Just the way Heatley will want it. Forget the Leafs. Toronto Sun columnist Steve Simmons would make Heatley cry like a schoolgirl. Same reason it's hard to imagine the sensitive sniper agreeing to a swap that would put the jersey of the Canadiens, Flames, Oilers, Canucks, Rangers, Bruins, Wings, Flyers, 'Hawks or Sabres over his weak shoulders.

Very good. Lets leave aside the “cry like a schoolgirl” statement for the time being, and focus on Heatley’s supposed fear of the media. Let’s assume for a moment that Heatley made a horrible mistake; for the sake of argument we’ll assume he made a tremendous error in judgment that resulted in the death of one of his teammates. Let’s further assume that as a result of this error in judgment and the resulting emotion, he requested a trade. No doubt he’d pick a city where the media would leave him alone – anyone as clearly sensitive as Heatley wouldn’t want to go to a city where that mistake and his acquisition would be major news.

Except that’s what happened. Heatley went to Ottawa after his reckless driving directly resulted in the death of teammate Dan Snyder; Ottawa, Ontario, a city where media coverage was guaranteed, where hockey was easily the number one sport on the map. This leaves aside reports that Heatley’s willing to waive his NMC to come to Edmonton, where the spotlight is even more intense, because I don’t think we need further proof. Brennan’s statement is grossly inaccurate on its surface.

In any case, Brennan wasn’t satisfied with this attempt at destroying Heatley’s reputation; he wrote another column today. Some excerpts:

No, this erratic, career-defining call -- this labelling of himself as a two-team quitter -- appears to have been made by Heatley alone.

Like a child, Heatley seemingly doesn't understand the word commitment.

Meanwhile, the sound you do not hear is the barking. Dany the Dog has decided to keep his muzzle on for now.

Thank goodness that we have a professional print media. I’d hate to see what one of those loose-cannon bloggers would do if he had to write about Heatley’s departure.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 Al
June 12 2009, 11:29AM
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Columnists like Bloggers are not all the same. Many bloggers have no class or respect, and clearly neither does Brennan.

You can't put all MSM in the same boat as Brennan, just like you can't lump all bloggers in the same boat. The diffence is no one knows the bloggers, and mostly don't care about them. I read the ones who are insightful. I think we've seen the hacks/or flake bloggers go by the wayside. Which is good.

I will say at least Brennan met up with Laraque, many bloggers are anonymous so it is pretty easy to write a scathing report when no one knows who you are and you never have to stand up to them.

Yesterday Brownlee ripped Brennan on Gregor's show saying it was classless because it is easy to write this stuff when Heatley is no longer with or around the team.

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#2 OvenChicken8
June 12 2009, 11:31AM
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He sounds just as bitter as I was while burning my #44 Pronger jersey moments after his trade request.

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#3 Hoodlum
June 12 2009, 11:35AM
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Heatly is totally getting a bad rap here. Heatly was in a different situation when he signed his contract, it's easy for people to say adapt and make the best of what is front of you, but he did have half a season under Clouston, and I think he's got a pretty good understanding of his role on the team. I don't think this is like the Pronger debacle at all, I think Heatly would have been happy to stay in Ottawa if the scenario hadn't have changed, but that's business, deal with it. It is a 2 way street though, I know if I'm not happy going to work, I'll find someplace where my skills and knowledge will be utilized the best they can, so why can't he? Obviously I don't make 10 mill a year, but the pursuit if happiness is more important than who's signing the check

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#4 Jonathan Willis
June 12 2009, 11:37AM
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Al wrote:

You can’t put all MSM in the same boat as Brennan, just like you can’t lump all bloggers in the same boat.

Absolutely.

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#5 Librarian Mike
June 12 2009, 11:37AM
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I don't mean to be elitist, but Brennan does write for the Sun after all. They're all about getting people riled up, regardless of what's the truth is.

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#6 Art
June 12 2009, 11:41AM
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He (Brennan) sounds very much like a jilted lover that has lost his greatest love.

I suspect that maybe somewhere in the Brennan home are shreds and fragments of what used to be a creepy shrine built to honor the greatness of Heatley.

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#7 Ogden Brother
June 12 2009, 11:42AM
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Strickland is saying (unconfirmed) Pronger has been traded to LA for Jack Johnson and the 5th.

If so, what a horrible trade for LA.

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#8 patty
June 12 2009, 11:42AM
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Brennan is an awful columnist. Has he ever written anything good, aside from his mustache movement article? That was real good stuff.

There are many blogs that have infinite more insight than brutally biased guys like Terry Jones and Brennan can provide. You'd think that all newspapers would value quality articles over crazy diatribes in this day and age.

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#9 Librarian Mike
June 12 2009, 11:44AM
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@ Art:

I wonder if his next article will document the ceremonial burning of his Heatley 'Hair Doll'...

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#10 patty
June 12 2009, 11:48AM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

Strickland is saying (unconfirmed) Pronger has been traded to LA for Jack Johnson and the 5th. If so, what a horrible trade for LA.

His article just changed a minute ago. Now he is talking about Heatley for JJ. No mention of Pronger anywhere, but I saw it as well.

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#11 Ogden Brother
June 12 2009, 11:52AM
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patty wrote:

Ogden Brother wrote: Strickland is saying (unconfirmed) Pronger has been traded to LA for Jack Johnson and the 5th. If so, what a horrible trade for LA. His article just changed a minute ago. Now he is talking about Heatley for JJ. No mention of Pronger anywhere, but I saw it as well.

Weird... makes more sense though.

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#12 Oilersordeath
June 12 2009, 11:58AM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

Strickland is saying (unconfirmed) Pronger has been traded to LA for Jack Johnson and the 5th. If so, what a horrible trade for LA.

I dont think Lombardi's that stupid!

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#13 Antony Ta
June 12 2009, 12:10PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

When Georges Laraque called Brennan “stupid” for making that suggestion, Brennan challenged him to say it to his face, which Laraque proceeded to do. Read more: http://www.oilersnation.com/2009/06/thank-goodness-for-the-professionals-don-brennan-on-dany-heatley/#ixzz0IExqEYlW&C

That's hilarious.

I don't know much about this Brennan fellow but the way you describe he's much worse than even our own Sun-schmuch Terry Jones. Is the media really that bad over in Ottawa?

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#14 Souby
June 12 2009, 12:32PM
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Brennan is an idiot. He proved that with his dumbass comments about two-handing Crosby's ankle during that Pens-Sens series, and he proved it again with his tirade towards Heatley. He needs to get over it and find a new player to stalk!

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#15 Hoos
June 12 2009, 12:35PM
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This is some great stuff here, but while I love the Oilers and most of the fans on ON, I'm eagerly anticipating Gregor's and more importantly Tencer's call-in shows where "Earl" goes on and on about how awesome it would be to have Heatley on a "Triple H line" with Horcoff and Hemsky.

Yes, my friends, this would be the same "Earl" who whined and complained about Pronger asking for a trade, wanting to leave Edmonton for unexplained reasons. The same "Earl" who yells and screams and Oilers/Ducks games, "Real mean honour contracts" or some other BS like that.

In the least we can say that while the Edmononton mainstream media did nothing to really unearth the reasons for Pronger's request, they did not eviscerate his character publically and unprofessionally. That was left to "Earl" and the other "dudes" who hate millionaire hockey players that put the needs and desires of their family and quality of life over dancing like a monkey for a $14.95 PPV price for their amusement.

These sports fans should leave the Oilers forever and take up hobbies like, "The Hills" or "Grey's Anatomy" where that kind of emotional, unobjective, irrational yelling, screaming and assinine arguments are not only accepted, but celebrated.

As always, I appreciate the opportunity to express my opinions.

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#16 Robin Brownlee
June 12 2009, 01:14PM
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Jon: The trash Brennan has been spewing is worthy of the same contempt he is showing Heatley, but let's be honest -- this is like shooting fish in a barrel.

I can't think of too many MSM writers who are worth a damn who could possibily consider what Brennan is writing to be anything but an over-the-top tabloid rant bordering on a vendetta of some kind.

I've raised issues with Heatley walking out on the Senators and I've had some pretty good goes with players and management types over the years, but nothing like this. Does ANYBODY think what Brennan is writing is OK and fair comment?

Think of worst, most-irresponsible blog out there. A piece-of-crap waste of time that offers nothing but spew and hate and cowardice and contempt. This is the MSM version of it.

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#17 Colin
June 12 2009, 01:38PM
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patty wrote:

Ogden Brother wrote: Strickland is saying (unconfirmed) Pronger has been traded to LA for Jack Johnson and the 5th. If so, what a horrible trade for LA. His article just changed a minute ago. Now he is talking about Heatley for JJ. No mention of Pronger anywhere, but I saw it as well.

Ha Ha Ha. I don't think the 5th would be in play without getting a top 10 pick back in return as well.

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#18 Jonathan Willis
June 12 2009, 01:38PM
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@ Robin Brownlee:

Glad to hear your take on it; that's my opinion too. I really don't understand how Brennan hung on to his job after the Crosby/Laraque incident, but I guess he gets attention.

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#19 Wainwright Dan
June 12 2009, 01:44PM
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Agreed. Robin/Jon, do you think there could be any legal repercussions heading Brennan's way? If someone ambushed my character like that, I'd be wanting some kind of recourse ...

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#20 cm
June 12 2009, 01:51PM
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@ Jonathan Willis: Just think what you could be if your decided to trade in your PJ's

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#21 Librarian Mike
June 12 2009, 02:14PM
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@ Robin Brownlee:

While sometimes a good spleen vent can be theraputic, I agree it's really not good practice for a journalist. I imagine that kind of thing will eventually come back to haunt him as players just start avoiding him.

I'm curious. Have you ever witnessed a journalist getting frozen out of a beat, Robin?

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#22 Jonathan Willis
June 12 2009, 02:23PM
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Librarian Mike wrote:

I’m curious. Have you ever witnessed a journalist getting frozen out of a beat, Robin?

And since Mike asked, are the stories about Glen Sather freezing out John Short true?

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#23 Librarian Mike
June 12 2009, 02:25PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

are the stories about Glen Sather freezing out John Short true?

Oooooh. I didn't know about that. Do tell!

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#24 MrOiler
June 12 2009, 02:34PM
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Let's face it, the media on a whole is a drama creation machine. Headlines sell. Headlines are mini soap operas designed to hook passers-by.

Brennan rants and raves and snags the fish in his net. He earns a pay cheque. He earns a following. More eyeballs read ads and everyone is happy. Right now, Ottawa fans are seething and Brennan is being opportunistic. Are you telling me that the media is never opportunistic? Please. That's the whole business.

Let's face it: hell hath no fury like a hockey fan scorned (see Pocklington, Pronger, and Comrie for our own local double standard).

Besides, since when has journalism ever been the paragon of propriety? Ever watch a media scrum? How about a press conference. Piranha on a carcass.

Kind of fascinating, like a public hanging and if it's fascinating it's NEWS!

As they say, in terms of public scorn it ranks like this:

1) Politicians 2) Lawyers 3) Journalists

Why should we be surprised or outraged? Unless that's simply more drama creation ...

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#25 Wyseguy
June 12 2009, 02:59PM
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First I gotta say that I haven't got much work done these last few days as I've been reading every opinion on who we'd give up for Heater. I live about 10 min from his summer home and am ready to head out there to beg him to come to Edmonton.

But..............

it's funny how we're OK with picking up Heater and defending his credibility compared to what we did when Pronger did the same thing. Us Oiler fans didn't really react in a way that encourages other big name players to come play for us.

The reality is completely different once we're sitting on the other side of the fence

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#26 Wanye Gretz
June 12 2009, 03:04PM
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@ Jonathan Willis:

If this is how MSM is going to write can I PLEASE post that article on the bedroom antics of that NHL player? You remember - the one that you vetoed at the last Nation meeting in the interests of remaining credible?

*pretends he has a secret to remain relevant*

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#27 ScubaSteve
June 12 2009, 03:08PM
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I sent and e-mail to Brennan telling him what I think of his article. he justified his actions by saying:

"So you're saying its okay for a player to ask out of town because he doesn't like that the coach cut his ice time? It's not better for that "star" to suck it up, play like he can, and get the ice time back? Every player should be able to play how much they want? Every play should be able to play their own game, and not follow the system? Why have a coach?"

I told him that Heatley's actions do not deserve a personal, verbal assault, with which he replied:

"Funny thing is, about all this respected you say I've lost .... Probably about 170 of the 200 emails I've received are from people who agree with me. But thanks for your concern."

Not really what I would expect from a "professional" journalist.

What a sad little man.

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#28 Jonathan Willis
June 12 2009, 03:22PM
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@ Wanye Gretz:

It was for your own good. You have a name, and a responsibility to protect it; lots of people look up to Wanye Gretz.

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#29 Librarian Mike
June 12 2009, 03:37PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

@ Wanye Gretz: It was for your own good. You have a name, and a responsibility to protect it; lots of people look up to Wanye Gretz.

Agreed. I've got a kid on the way, and I'm working on convincing the wife to name it Wanye (as a middle name if it's a girl).

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#30 Ender the Dragon
June 12 2009, 03:39PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

. . . lots of people look up to Wanye Gretz.

When he's standing on the bar at Hudsons, anyway . . .

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#31 Wanye Gretz
June 12 2009, 03:41PM
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@ Hoos:

Remember when we went to high school together? I do.

Jonathan Willis wrote:

@ Wanye Gretz: lots of people look up to Wanye Gretz.

This is true. I am tall.

@ Librarian Mike:

I am thinking it might be time to drop the "Gretz" from my moniker. When people think I am "Wayne Gretz" I feel a touch arrogant. No one should share a name with the greatest human to walk this blue marble. Perhaps if I dropped it to Wanye or Lil Wanye people would get the point and I would look like a douche but not an arrogant douche.

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#32 r59
June 12 2009, 03:47PM
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Wanye Gretz wrote:

Perhaps if I dropped it to Wanye or Lil Wanye people would get the point and I would look like a douche but not an arrogant douche.

I didn't realize your name wasn't Wayne until just now and I have been reading this site for over 18 months.

*embarrased, r59 runs away crying having thought WaNYe was actually arrogant for naming himself after #99*

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#33 Librarian Mike
June 12 2009, 03:49PM
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@ Wanye Gretz:

Your call dude, but I wouldn't change a thing. The way I can tell the difference between you and 'Wayne Gretz' is that you don't talk about yourself in the 3rd person.

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#34 Ender the Dragon
June 12 2009, 03:59PM
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@ Wanye Gretz:

We was just hackin' on you, man . . .

Keep the name. Truly, you've earned it by now.

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#35 Archaeologuy
June 12 2009, 03:59PM
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@ Librarian Mike: Yeah, more often than not he refers to himself in the 1st person plural

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#36 RBK
June 12 2009, 04:01PM
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Wanye always talks in the third person.

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#37 Hoos
June 12 2009, 04:05PM
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@ Wanye Gretz

This weekend I was regaling my compatriots of our exploits in grade 11 drama. Yes, I do remember well our highschool days.

One question: would YOU have requested a trade from there?

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#38 Wanye Gretz
June 12 2009, 04:09PM
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@ Hoos:

Ah grade 11 drama. Note to Nation: Hoos and I attended high school in prison in Southern Alberta. If any of you try and make a move on any of the Nation staff Hoos will round up the rest of his crew and make a mess of you.

@ RBK:

Talking in the third person is the best. When people call you on it it only makes you cooler.

@ Ender the Dragon:

I wasn't hatching this plan because of getting static from anyone on the Nation. I have been pondering it for awhile. Whenever someone ditches their last name they always get way cooler.

Remember when Maddona Ciccone dropped Ciccone? Tight.

Remember when Cher Bono became Cher? Decent.

Remember when Oprah Winfrey became Oprah? Oh yeah.

Much like them I long to become a powerful woman in showbiz reppin' a single name.

*immediately regrets unveiling the 5 year plan. Glad he didn't mention the sex change due in 2012*

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#39 Robin Brownlee
June 12 2009, 04:19PM
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@ MrOiler: Reporter sleep with your wife?

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#40 the Warrior
June 12 2009, 04:20PM
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Wanye Gretz wrote:

Talking in the third person is the best. When people call you on it it only makes you cooler.

The Warrior agrees.

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#41 yo
June 12 2009, 04:31PM
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This article is a reminder of the long-winded excuses I used to get from my kids when trying to explain why they were late etc..it becomes much ado about nothing. DanHeat is not traded anywhere yet much less to Edmonton. Are we going to have to hear uber-analysis of his entire life? Are we going to hear someone count the hairs on his ass ad nauseum? If anyone cared to examine Gretzky or Messier's life decisions in detail they might not look so good either. Enough already.

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#42 Muller
June 13 2009, 01:56AM
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Heatley could've been an Isle but was past over in the draft for Dipietro when they already had Luongo. I would want that one back.

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#43 GSC
June 13 2009, 10:04AM
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I actually agreed with what Brennan said about giving Crosby a two-hander.

It's part of the game. To not take advantage of or exacerbate an opponent's weakness is incredibly foolish.

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#44 Jonathan Willis
June 13 2009, 06:21PM
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@ GSC:

To go out to intentionally injure someone is not part of the game; and if it is, it shouldn't be - even at the pro level.

To publicly call for a player to imitate Bobby Clarke's slash on Kharlamov (sp?) is just plain wrong. And if you don't agree with me, how did you feel when Suter concussed Kariya? How would you feel if Robyn Regehr drove Hemsky's head into the boards on the eve of a playoff match?

It's wrong, and it doesn't matter what colour jersey the player who does it wears.

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