By keeping quiet and not saying “no” to the Edmonton Oilers, Dany Heatley has left himself an out should he run out of options and end up having to shake hands with GM Steve Tambellini.
Having asked the Ottawa Senators for a trade, only to refuse to waive his no-movement clause in subsequent days after Tambellini and Ottawa GM Bryan Murray put together a package that would’ve shipped Dustin Penner, Andrew Cogliano and Ladislav Smid to the Sens, Heatley’s taken his fair share of abuse.
Heatley did, after all, rebuff Tambellini and president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe when they jetted to Kelowna to meet with him. That inflamed Oilers fans and caused more than a few commentators, myself included, to suggest it’s for the best. I stand by that.
But what Heatley hasn’t done through any of this is unequivocally say, “No” to the Oilers, to the trade, to the city. He hasn’t made any firm decision and has avoided any statement on the situation.
That’s his out. Should Heatley realize he has no other options, and with a return to Ottawa not in the cards now that Alexei Kovalev has been signed by the Senators, I suspect we’ll be reminded of that if, in the next, say, 48 hours, he reluctantly gives Tambellini’s deal his blessing.
The spin will begin.
Let me sleep on it
I can envision the Heatley news conference now…
TAMBELLINI: “We’re very happy to announce we’ve acquired Dany Heatley from the Ottawa Senators. Dany is a great player and his resume both in the NHL and international play is stellar. This wasn’t an easy deal to get done, but trades of this magnitude take time. We’re very happy.”
HEATLEY: “I’m extremely happy to be a member of the Edmonton Oilers. This is a storied franchise with a proud and successful history and I can’t say how thrilled I am to be a part of it.”
REPORTER: “Dany, what took so damn long?”
HEATLEY: “Decisions of this scope take a lot of thought. I didn’t want to rush into anything. I wanted to be sure. It wasn’t so much looking at other options as it was a matter of making sure Edmonton would be right for me and I’d be right for Edmonton. Remember, I never said no to Mr. Tambellini, I just didn’t say yes.”
REPORTER: “So you weren’t waiting for a trade offer from the New York Rangers or the Los Angeles Kings?”
HEATLEY: “Those are great cities and great franchises as well, but, in the end, Edmonton was the best option. I’m very happy to be an Oiler.”
You know my thoughts on Heatley, so there’s no need to regurgitate them yet again. The more I think about the situation, especially with the signing of Kovalev, the more I can see it unfolding this way.
I don’t see other options for Heatley, at least not options that will be acceptable to Murray. That leaves me with the sneaking suspicion we could very well see Heatley bite his lip and polish his spin in preparation for an announcement this deal is done.
Those who have wanted Heatley all along will rejoice. Those who’ve cast a wary glance Heatley’s way since the trade was leaked will continue to give him the stink eye. Those who jumped on the “it’s a bad idea” bandwagon later on? Who knows what side of the fence they’ll come down on.
Say what you want about Heatley, he isn’t stupid. While actions should speak louder than words, his silence has left him an out, and the benefit of the doubt, with the people who want him here.
“I’m happy to be an Oiler…”
— Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on Team 1260.