Limbo: spin to come?


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.”

Moving on

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.

  • Chris

    @ The Heatley Detractors:

    Do any of you actually belive that Cogliano or Penner will score the same amount of goals as Heatley over the next five? Are any of you seriously concerned that there wont be any cap room for Magnus, or other key prospects over the next few years thanks to Heatley's cap hit? How do you know Heatley will be any more of a cancer in the room than say, Visnovsky who also wouldn't have waived his NMC to play in Edmonton had it kicked in? Chill out people…

    The only thing that scares me is that San Jose will jump out of nowhere and grab Heater before October. The Oilers have piles of middling players under contract, but can only dress twelve forwards per game… Wouldn't it be nice if one of those twelve, was a guy who outscored all other Canadian born players since the lockout? If Heatley isn't a good enough player, person, or roster fit: Who is?

    Who else do you think Tambellini can aquire for Penner, Smid, and Cogliano? Take a look at all the first line players on the various 2006 Olympic rosters and tell me who amoung them can be had for fourth line winger making 4.25 million, a bottom pairing defenceman, and a smallish third line center who can't win a draw? Remember, this alternate player must be young, have a track record of staying healthy, and be under contract for another four or five years… Any ideas?…

    Didn't think so.

  • Chris

    Furthermore, how is Tambellini's strategy harming Edmonton's image amoungst the players? Being patient and respectful with Heatley probably wins us more cred with the loyal brothers of the NHLPA than Hextall's tact…

    Tambellini/Katz are again showing the hockey world that Edmonton is determined to land a big player. The Oilers are trying to improve, and improve quickly… How can that be seen negatively by the players? Who will be laughing if Tambellini's patience pays off, and Heatley helps the Oilers secure the last playoff spot just ahead of Los Angeles who bet the farm on an aging left winger with a knee brace… Will Hextall feel like trash talking Heatley then?

  • Robin Brownlee

    @ Chris:
    Clearly, there's no need for the deal to be done to get the spin started.
    Now, you can read Visnovsky's mind? Where did you get that bit of information? He's happy here and is anything but a cancer in the dressing room.

    I'll give you this much — the only thing that makes this trade remotely palatable is the chance to dump PDP and the $21.25 million invested in him. I can't see any other team taking that on.

    The downside, even if you choose to ignore it, is that if Heatley doesn't produce 40-50 goals, the Oilers are stiffer than stiff. He brings nothing else to the table. If he sulks and becomes a problem, the Oilers are stuck. He's got a track record of doing that. If you doubt it, take a closer look at Ron Hextall's comments.
    Heatley pissed and moaned to no end while he was in Atlanta as well when he didn't like how he was being coached. The Thrashers tolerated that because without him and Kovalchuk, they had nothing to sell, no reason to open the arena doors. Now, he doesn't like Cory Clouston. Trade me.
    And those of us who don't believe the Oilers have to make a big splash and throw $6 million-or-more at some big name so management can say, "Look what we've done," don't have to name another marquee player who can be had for Penner, Cogliano and Smid. That proves nothing. Who says one big name is the answer? If the big name is the right name, sure. If not, back-off and resist the urge to sell the big splash. Is Heatley the right guy?
    You think so. I think not.

  • buck

    A little off topic: The Glory Years were built essentially from scratch, the exception being the protection of Wayne Gretzky, one of the top three players ever. A tremendous amount of luck drafting, shrewd trades for filler, add 5 development years or so and you had the best club team that ever was. Flash forward to today: A hodge podge, a club without an identity, hoping to make a few extra bucks by making the playoffs. I don't know of anyone in the sphere thinking "boy, give us 2-3 years of development and happy days are here again."

    Oiler Hockey? The only way it 'might,' happen is if management burns it down and starts over. Screw Heatly, trade some of the veterans for youth and draft choices, suffer for a few years, and watch out for the Oilers.

    Would the fans buy it? My guess is that they would, perhaps grumbling all the way. BUT! The way they're going about it leads nowhere, and three years from now I'll be writing the same post.

  • Hemmertime

    @ Robin Brownlee:
    Quoting Article on Vis:

    His main concern about the move involves his fiancee, who is expecting their first child.

    "I told Kevin that for family, it's a better life in L.A., but for hockey, it's a better life in Edmonton," he said, but quickly diffused fears that he may ask out after one season.

    "It's OK – she's strong and she helps me," he said. "If I'm happy, she'll be happy."

    What he wants is to make the playoffs after five early summers in Los Angeles.

    "I'm very happy to play for Edmonton," he said. "In Canada, hockey is the No. 1 sport, just like in Slovakia.


    Sounds like the Spin Article you wrote for what Heatley is going to say. I believe there were a few more questionable comments too.

  • Hemmertime


    here is another

    At the time, Lubomir Visnovsky was not too excited over the trade that landed him with the Oilers but since then he's grown fond of his new team and new city.

    "I was so mad because I signed a big deal with the Kings, I wanted to stay there," Visnovsky told TSN. "I felt like they were my hometown, it was a big surprise for me."

  • Hemmertime

    Side note:

    Anyone else feel it looks like Sam Gagner saw the Timmys commercial with the adult hockey player getting the puck stolen by the group of kids and say "That aint happening to me!"?

  • Chris

    @ Robin Brownlee:

    I'm speaking more to the people who are say F U to Heatley simply because thier feelings are hurt.

    Yes, Visnovsky may be happy here. I base my comment on Visnovsky's first (openly honest)response to being traded… he sure didn't sound like a guy who would have waived a NMC to come to Edmonton…I brought up Visnovsky as an example because he clearly was surprised to be traded; and has been anything but a cancer in the room. He just comes to the rink and plays. If Heatley does decide to come here, there is no reason to believe that he will sulk and underperform; specially when you consider that this is an Olympic year. As for the cap hit: I can think of many, many contracts that are worse… (Heatley stacks up nice to Briere, Gomez, Smyth, and on and on…)

    I gather you are just generally against the strategy of landing the "big fish". I get it. Personally, I feel the Oilers need to win now. It's been way to long since this town had a superstar and young fans need someone to rally behind, or we'll lose an entire generation. (My kids are Penguin fans) Besides: Visnovsky, Souray, Horcoff, and Khabibulin aren't getting any younger. A team led by Heatley may not win the cup, but could prove to be a nice distraction while the groundwork is being laid in places like Oklahoma for the longterm good of the franchise.

  • Robin Brownlee

    Hemmertime wrote:

    Sounds like the Spin Article you wrote for what Heatley is going to say. I believe there were a few more questionable comments too.

    Do you think you are telling me something I don't know? Really. Do you?
    Visnovsky's well-documented concern at the time of the trade was about the health of his fiancee and unborn baby. How does that have any merit when tenuously tied to circumstances now by a ridiculous question like "How would do we know he'll be any more of a cancer than Visnovsky?"
    Visnovsky has not said a peep, on the record or off, indicating any doubts about being here since getting over the initial news of the trade and the circumstances of the timing of the news. Not quite the same as Heatley declaring "I want a trade" because the coach isn't playing me the way I wanted to be played, even if the team improved under his strategy.

    Chris wrote:

    I’m speaking more to the people who are say F U to Heatley simply because thier feelings are hurt.

    Agreed. I don't like it that Heatley has dragged his feet on this, but that's no reason for a hockey team or fans to turn their backs on a player who can be a difference-maker. My misgivings about Heatley have nothing to do with that and pre-date any talk he could end up here.
    Like I said, I don't see the need to sell the big splash, but if it's there and it's the right player and not just a marquee name with a sketchy history, then spend to the cap to get him and get after it. I question whether Heatley is the right player.

  • Hemmertime

    @ Robin Brownlee:
    nah, Im just showing evidence that it is unlikely that Visnovsky would have waived his NMC 1 week later. Like you were asking for. Visnovsky has not been a cancer

    Robin Brownlee wrote:

    Visnovsky has not said a peep, on the record or off, indicating any doubts about being here since getting over the initial news of the trade and the circumstances of the timing of the news. Not quite the same as Heatley declaring “I want a trade” because the coach isn’t playing me the way I wanted to be played, even if the team improved under his strategy.

    You are right, they are completely different, one happens before a trade, one happens after. I doubt Heatley will come in bashing the Oilers or will state discontent for at least 2 years. Its not like he went ATL->OTT and 1 year later has an issue, he was there long enough to make an informed decision on his life. Until he comes out and states "This is Cloustons fault and I reject Edmonton" everything else is speculation.

    I can see your point questioning if Heatley is the right player, but its trumped by the fact he is the available player. If any other marquee name is available that is great in the room that we could afford and land via trade, I'd love to hear his name. Or any prospects to having a star player here within 3 years. We have Hemsky for only so long at this cap hit, give him an appealing LW to play with for a few years, see where he stacks up – and hopefully keep him when the contract is up. Hemsky doesnt play D, Hemsky isnt a leader in our dressing room. He still gets points. Not every player has the character of Adam Oates – and most star players are quite the opposite in todays NHL.

  • Hemmertime

    Robin Brownlee wrote:

    Do you think you are telling me something I don’t know? Really. Do you?

    And buddy, you really becoming a prick lately. Seemingly since Gregor got ripped you upped the ante.

  • Hemmertime

    Okay, what is acceptable, jerk? Antagonistic? I guess rude would be the socially acceptable way. Personally the word prick isn't that insulting to me, if you take huge offense I apologize, threatening a ban from ON seems a little excessive. I think "Do you think you are telling me something I don’t know? Really. Do you?" comes off as more rude than being called a prick. Maybe that's just due to the fact I've been called it alot though.

    If you want an answer, no, you likely knew that. But if you're asking a question on where people got the idea Visnovsky wouldnt waive his NMC make damn sure we know it's rhetorical before you jump on people for answering it. Would you like every line written in your articles to be responded to "Do you think you're telling me something I don't know?". There are informative lines, new information, and stuff we may already know in every article.

    Now, you can read Visnovsky’s mind? Where did you get that bit of information?

    So I was backing up that bit of information in links from reputable sources that yes, I agree Visnovsky wouldn't have waived his NMC had the deal happened a week later. Do you? His reasons may have been family/kid/wife/don't care. Either way, it was a player unhappy to be traded here. He likely would have been unhappy to be traded anywhere granted, but still proof from his mouth he didnt want the trade – and then played successfully the next season.

    If you choose to ban me for using language that the filter doesn't even block feel free. I can proxy server the site anyway so I'll get my ON fix and get to read yours and Gregors articles anyway so I'll live. If you choose to ban me for backing up my opinions with links, and pointing out that you are rude to me prior to me saying anything that could be construed as insulting to you – well then it would sour my opinion of ON, that is something 13 year old boys do on forums.

  • Hemmertime

    ooooh about calling you a prick. I guess… your highness. =)

    I answered your question that no, I dont think I was giving you a revelation.

    Do you think 1 week later Visnovsky would have waived his NMC?