July 01 2009 11:04PM
If you're asking me, let's hope the done deal for Dany Heatley that came undone last night stays that way. The Edmonton Oilers will be better off without him.
The best thing the Oilers and GM Steve Tambellini can do today with the free agency season officially underway -- unless that deadline has been reported incorrectly without clarification by the NHL as well -- is yank their offer to the Ottawa Senators off the table and move on.
Let's review . . .
-- Heatley and his agents demand a trade out of Ottawa because Dany Boy is unhappy with the way he's been handled by new coach Cory Clouston. Instead of going to GM Bryan Murray on the down-low, Heatley and his agents go public, forcing Murray's hand.
-- In the days since, Heatley, through his agents, make it known that the Oilers would be one of the teams he'd waive his no-trade clause to go to and it's widely reported by MSM outlets, including TSN, that's the case. Oiler fans work themselves into a lather about landing Heatley.
-- Murray fields offers leading up to the NHL Entry Draft. In the wake of the draft, the Oilers step to the front of the line Tuesday with an offer that includes Dustin Penner, Andrew Cogliano and Ladislav Smid. Dump PDP as part of a Heatley deal? Oilers fans are in a frenzy.
-- Late Tuesday afternoon, with a midnight deadline for a $4-million bonus payment to Heatley looming (or so everybody thought), several MSM media outlets, including Sportsnet, TEAM 1260 and The Score, report that the Oilers and Senators have completed the Heatley swap for Penner, Cogliano and Smid. Done deal. Oilers fans rejoice.
-- Other media outlets, notably TSN and Bob McKenzie, say, "Not so fast." Heatley has yet to approve the deal by waiving his no-trade clause. The done deal starts to unravel. Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun reports that Heatley has killed the deal. Heatley's agents later clarify Heatley has not killed the deal. He hasn't said no but he hasn't said yes. He wants to "sleep on it." Shunned again, Oiler fans are outraged.
Is that about right?
THE MORNING AFTER
So, as Oilers fans awoke this morning with teeth and fists clenched and cursing Heatley and everybody who reported the done deal, delivering a kick in the collective nuts the way Chris Pronger, Michael Nylander and countless others have done, we're led to believe there's still a chance Heatley might yet give Edmonton his blessing.
Sure, there's still a chance -- if Heatley and his camp can't orchestrate a deal with the New York Rangers before the REAL deadline for the bonus payment ticks by at 11:59 tonight.
Tell me this: how is it that nobody with the Senators or the Oilers had the actual deadline locked down? How is it that the NHL never clarified when the deadline fell? How did everybody get it wrong? Kind of an important detail, don't you think?
That said, and knowing what we think we know today, does the possibility of landing a 40-50 goal player of Heatley's stature trump the red flags that surround him?
While I'm not into the "Dany Heatley's mom wears army boots and dresses him funny" venom that was spewed in Ottawa when he went public with his trade request, for me the answer is no. Not a chance.
The way I see it, the boondoggle that infolded late Tuesday gives the Oilers a chance to reconsider their position, withdraw their offer and run the hell the other way as fast as they can. They should take it.
Ask yourself this: Is Heatley a cornerstone player Tambellini can build his team around for years to come? At $7.5 million per season in a salary cap world, he'd damn sure better be. Are you thinking, "maybe" or are you thinking "no?" Anybody thinking "yes" please raise your hands.
The best thing for the Oilers is that this deal stays undone. Heatley isn't the answer.
-- It's been suggested that Murray knew the deadline actually fell at 11:59 tonight, but didn't disclose it. The reasoning behind that train of thought is that Murray was using the Oilers to leverage better offers, most notably from the Rangers.
It's also been offered Murray screwed with Tambellini and the Oilers as payback for the Mike Comrie deal that came undone during his days as Anaheim GM -- when Kevin Lowe queered a trade involving Cory Perry with a late stipulation Comrie cough up $2.5 million to complete the swap. In other words, karma is biting the Oilers on the backside.
I'd bet on the former. That, or Murray is grossly incompetent.
-- There's plenty of consternation among Oilers fans that Tambellini now has a problem in the dressing room because Penner, Cogliano and Smid are going to feel unwanted because their names came out in the deal.
Too bad. Get over it. It's part of the gig and part of a business that makes players like Penner, Cogliano and Smid millionaires. The possibility of being traded is part of the package.
Did Penner feel bad because the Ducks didn't match Edmonton's offer sheet? No. He took the money. Still with the Ducks, it seems to me Perry has recovered nicely from being offered up in the Comrie deal that came undone. No?
-- When reporters push to break stories and announce that a deal is done and it goes sideways, they have to wear it. That, like trades for players, is part of the game.
In that regard, it's obvious Jason Gregor of the TEAM 1260, didn't have all of the bases covered in reporting the deal as done.
Fine. Gregor went with his best information and trusted a source and the story went bust. Wrong is wrong. No excuses, but it happens. Own it, as Gregor has, and move on.
That said, there's no excuse for some of the over-the-top crap written by fans and directed at Gregor over what unfolded Tuesday. None.
-- Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on Team 1260.