Off your knees and on your feet

Robin Brownlee
July 02 2009 11:53AM

If you could jab Edmonton Oilers players like Steve MacIntyre and Zack Stortini in the ass with a shot of sodium pentothal, I wonder what they'd say about Dany Heatley?

Would MacIntyre, who thanks his lucky stars every time he pulls on an Oilers jersey after a decade of slugging it out in the minors, say Heatley has acted like a spoiled, petulant child in the last 48 hours or so? Would he talk about being sickened by Heatley's sense of entitlement, how he has screwed over not only the Oilers but the Ottawa Senators?

Would Stortini, who has parlayed modest skills and a Herculean work ethic to a place at the bottom of the NHL pay scale, admit watching GM Steve Tambellini and Kevin Lowe essentially beg and grovel to get Heatley to accept a trade to Edmonton makes him want to puke? Would he allow that Heatley is the epitome of the me-first player who cares only about a pay cheque and having his own way, somebody who doesn't have the faintest idea what it means to be a team guy?

Do they want him as a teammate? Is Heatley somebody they want to do the dirty work for as part of the job description they happily accept as part of what it takes to call themselves members of the Oilers?

I don't know. But, after the last 48 hours — in which Heatley has rebuffed the Oilers, refused to waive his no-movement clause in a deal for Dustin Penner, Andrew Cogliano and Ladislav Smid after demanding the Senators trade him — is there any doubt Heatley is the last player the Oilers need?

You know where I stand on that. How about you?

Enough already

If Heatley hasn't used up every shred of any benefit of the doubt Oilers fans have been willing to allow in order to add his 40 goals to their top line, then the faithful at Rexall Place truly are a masochistic lot.

Even now, after Ottawa GM Bryan Murray said today the deal that was on the table is dead because the Senators had to kick-in a $4-million bonus to Heatley last night, some die-hards are still in denial of the obvious.

Maybe the Oilers can take on a couple of contracts in the deal — those of Jason Smith and Christoph Schubert have been mentioned — to offset Ottawa's financial hit and keep talks alive for the right to pay Heatley's $7.5 million cap hit a season. Oh, wouldn't that be something?

Maybe if Tambellini and Lowe, who have already taken the extraordinary step of flying to Kelowna to meet with Heatley, get on bended knee and kiss his Stanley Cup ring — wait, he doesn't have one — Dany will re-think his desire to go anywhere but Edmonton and agree to make his millions here. Besides, he can always change his mind once next season begins.

Are Oilers fans that desperate? Sadly, some are, although I'm guessing the numbers who think an abusive relationship is better than no relationship at all are dwindling.

Move on

I admire the determination of Tambellini and Lowe to do whatever it takes to improve the Oilers after three straight years out of the playoffs. Given the well-documented challenges this city has in attracting marquee players and slights fans have endued in the past, they have to take extraordinary measures.

Lowe tried, without success, with Marian Hossa last summer. He threw out the welcome mat and the Oilers stopped just short of offering up a key to the city. Players called. Owner Daryl Katz waded in. No deal.

At some point, though, enough is enough. At some point, making a case for Edmonton and what it could mean to play for the Oilers, transcends a sales pitch and becomes begging. There is no dignity, 40 goals or not, in that.

At some point, fans have to admit welcoming a player like Heatley into the dressing room, despite his obvious on-ice ability, isn't for the best. At some point, it becomes obvious somebody of Heatley's ilk would be poison to a group of players that already has challenges in terms of cohesiveness.

Does it really take a shot of truth serum in the ass to admit we're well past that point with Dany Heatley?

— Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on Team 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#51 Milli
July 02 2009, 04:42PM
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Good read. I'd like to hear from Tambo. I'd also like to see a few minor moves now, quit chasing the fairies. Let's see how Gagner responds this year, lets see what penner's got. What can Quinn get outta these guys. We need a third line center. As for Zack and Big Mac, those guys are the reason I can still be a crazed fan, cuz some of these guys get it, some love and appreciate every minute. And, those are the warriors. Good on them.

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#52 Dennis
July 02 2009, 07:07PM
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Rick: I figured i'd mention it considering none of the Edm media would:)

BTW, I was never really on board with the TAmbo signing. I figured there was a reason he was passed over twice in Van

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#53 Ogden Brother
July 02 2009, 07:37PM
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Chris wrote:

@ Ogden Brother: Since when are WE the general managers. My gut tells me Tambellini should walk on Heatley also… but I’m not the guy who met with him yesterday; I haven’t had private conversations with Quinn and Renny about Heatleys coach-ability… Basically I don’t know what they know. Believe me, Lowe, in particular, has no shortage of stubborn Edmonton pride. Personally, I really don’t care if Heatley hates this city… In the end, if he does come here and scores forty goals, he can help the Oilers win. Let’s face it, we are already putting up with a malcontent, petulant, incomplete hockey player…But he only scores twenty goals a season.

I'm not telling him to make his decision based on fan input, but I would think it's fair for him to know the way (most?) fans feel about the situation... this has grown bigger then the team to the point of a reflextion on the community as a whole (it's all over national news) and I for one am embarrassed that the team that I love is still chasing after this guy.

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#54 Clarkenstein
July 02 2009, 07:59PM
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Robin if Tambellini ever wakes up from this fairy tale nightmare and has a presser could u ask him about the screw up on understanding when the bonus was due. Somebody was dumb and/or lying. Who was it?

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#55 Jamie
July 02 2009, 08:51PM
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Great article Robin.

Where does Murray get off asking for more assets now that the bonus has been paid? Does he live in a fantasy world where the law of supply and demand does not apply? It seems evident that the Oilers are bidding against themselves at this point.

Personally I am sick of Heatley self of entitlement and have no desire to have in Oiler silks. I would like nothing more than to see the Sens sit him til Christmas and have him miss the Olympics.

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#56 Jamie
July 02 2009, 08:51PM
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Oops, Heatley's sense of entitlement

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#57 Chris
July 02 2009, 09:09PM
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Jamie wrote:

Personally I am sick of Heatley self of entitlement and have no desire to have in Oiler silks. I would like nothing more than to see the Sens sit him til Christmas and have him miss the Olympics.

How does this help? Heatley may eventually descide to come to Edmonton even though it's clearly not his first choice: So what if it isn't? If Tambellini trades for a differnt player who doesn't have a NMC, and this player is forced to come against his will (O'Sullivan) how is that any different? Heatley is Heatley. He was just as selfish, and flawed when he scored fifty for Ottawa as he is now. Fact is, he can improve the on-ice product at Rexall. Tambellini, however, must be careful not to give up too much for a player who may only stick around for a season or two... The fact that Heatley hasn't waived the NMC twice shouldn't kill our willingness to eventually take him... but maybe not at so high a price. I'd like to keep Cogs out of this deal.

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#58 oilersseasonticketholdersince99
July 02 2009, 10:52PM
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Keep Heatley then hell out of Edmonton,this guy would divide our dressing room,I dont want any winers on our team. No one else wants him why would we beg and grovel so he can play half a year and ask to be traded,he should change his name to Danny Hateley!!!

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#59 Hemmertime
July 02 2009, 11:56PM
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Chris wrote:

Let’s face it, we are already putting up with a malcontent, petulant, incomplete hockey player…But he only scores twenty goals a season.

Bingo. Pavel Bure : 2000, 2001 FLA: - Contract disputes in his past, doesnt play D.

Jaromir Jagr : 2006 NYR: GP: 82, G: 54, 2001 Pitts: GP: 81, G: 52 - Do I need to elaborate on Jagr's sense of entitlement?

Ilya Kovalchuk : ATL 2006,08- When broke in was a terrible teammate and used to show off on the ice. Calming as he ages, but I wouldnt say a good example in 2006 for teammates.

Dany Heatley - Ott 06,07

Number of fifty-goal seasons by era

Decade Seasons 1920s 0 1930s 0 1940s 1 1950s 0 1960s 5 1970s 31 1980s 76 1990s 55 2000s 17

One Source: hxxp://www.sportscity.com/nhl/nhl-50-goal-scorers/

So Heatley has over 10% of the 50 goal seasons this decade. Players with serious lack of charactor and huge glaring flaws make up for 8/17. 50% of the 50 goal scoring seasons are by pre-madonas with a massive sense of self entitlement etc. I dont mind Heatley at all, given the selfishness he has shown by the last month, my math (which is nearly the opposite of Willis' in quality) shows he is likely to score 70!

*Other 50 goal scorers, Ovechkin 06,08,09 Iginla 02,08

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#60 Death Metal Nightmare
July 03 2009, 03:58AM
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this whole argument about Heatley being a selfish, entitled player is kind of a paradox. if it WAS the "absolute" truth, why wouldnt he just accept the trade and come waste time in Edmonton collecting his checks? theres plenty of players who show up in this league to collect a check. Hell, Penner did for two seasons already.

so what does this really say about Heatley? NYR, LA, SJ - what were the other teams on his list? i suppose ones with good records and players from the previous season. LA has weather, potential bandwagon market and an up and coming team (we know Hextall doesnt want him and spelled it out in selective history). NYR has a GM that is dumb enough to do anything and Sean Avery can lead him to models with eating disorders.

Heatley wants to play on teams that can compete consistently. same with Hossa. he probably has some major beef with how Ottawa started to take a crap personnel/management wise and then through multiple coach changes. im no way am i defending him but theres numerous factors that could be motivating his pissy attitude and to HIM it could be a lot more complex at the moment than just seeing the league "through the eyes of Stortini". no doubt he should, but its easier said than done. thats probably why he has beer goggles on consistently.

and on superficial levels: what really does he have to look forward to in Edmonton? Hemsky. thats about it. the lines below that are sketchy at best and a decent D for offense. who knows, he might not like Quinn. he might think some of the management team are morons. hell, he might have completely different motives altogether.

if the Oilers break it off - they break it off. but until way more transparent facts come out about this situation, im not buying all this speculative stuff about Oilers management begging, etc, etc. (it could have just been a simple conversation to see where his head is at, what his beef is and thats it.). face to face dialog isnt begging. its usually more penetrating to get face to face conversations in fragile situations.

hopefully this ends soon. either way is fine by me. if they dont get Heatley, they better find someone for Hemsky this season or its one more gravy contract year gone to waste and another mediocre season.

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#61 Robin Browee
July 03 2009, 07:02AM
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@ Hemmertime: You ae using statistics to explain/justify Heatley's me-first act? That's classic. Use them to argue he's an adept goal-scorer, but don't try to sell me that he's a good team player and the right guy at the right time for this team.

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#62 Peter Pan
July 03 2009, 10:15AM
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Robin Browee wrote:

@ Hemmertime: You ae using statistics to explain/justify Heatley’s me-first act? That’s classic. Use them to argue he’s an adept goal-scorer, but don’t try to sell me that he’s a good team player and the right guy at the right time for this team.

Brownlee's right. What makes you think this loser won't pull off the same stunt in a year or two from now? He wants the ritz and glitz of New York or L.A. Hockey is not at forefront of his priorities. It's too bad. He has talent, but no class. Let it go!

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#63 Robin Browee
July 03 2009, 10:31AM
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@ Peter Pan: Look, I don't want to go over the top and start calling Heatley an endless string of names -- that was done by Ottawa writers when he asked for the trade and I thought it showed a lack of class. Dany is an elite talent, there's no question and I can see why a lot of people are interested in him. Forty-goal guys don't grow on trees. I just don't want the baggage he brings and anybody who doesn't see red flags all over are deluding themselves. My big fan, Jack Bauer, leads that parade. While there aren't a bunch of 40-50 goal guys available through free agency or trade, I refuse to believe Heatley is the only option when you're talking about a cap hit of $7.5 million a season. Correct me if I'm wrong, but if Tambellini can't find a 35-45 goal scorer (which still ranks as a triggerman in my books) who also brings some other dimensions and doesn't have the baggage for $7.5 million a season via a trade, then he isn't looking hard enough.

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#64 Jamie
July 03 2009, 10:52AM
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Wow. I am amazed at the desperation that some Oiler fans have. Have some pride people. Yes he may scores some goals but how messed up is this locker room going to be? Probably much the same as Ottawa's was the last 2 years. Great.

I don't know how Heatley goes back to play in Ottawa. They will eat him alive. That leaves very few teams left for him to go to. I say leave him to Ottawa and then revisit the issue when they are desperate to get rid of him and maybe his ego gets a reality check.

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#65 Robin Brownlee
July 03 2009, 12:22PM
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Who is this "Browee" pretending to be me? (can't even type my own name properly).

Reminds me of the very last press pass I had issued at Maple Leaf Gardens. Having been on the beat and a national writer for awhile, I didn't expect my keeper memento from that final game to read: Rubin Brontee, but it did. I still have it.

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#66 Oil-man-Dan
July 03 2009, 04:02PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

I didn’t expect my keeper memento from that final game to read: Rubin Brontee, but it did. I still have it.

That is classic. LMAO. :)

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