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?
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.
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.