Kalman’s Column: When spoiled Heatley wins, everyone else loses

Heatley

Heatley

I hesitate to devote too much space on The Bruins Blog to a guy like Ottawa forward Dany Heatley. But the fact is he’s a current star player on one of Boston’s division rivals and his future landing spot could affect the Bruins in numerous ways.

Heatley, speaking for the first time since he demanded a trade from Ottawa in May and the demand became public in June, reiterated that his trade demand still stands. With his agent also on the line, Heatley came off like the NHL version of Terrell Owens, as he acted like he’s been disrespected by not only having his role with the Senators reduced, but by the Sens’ decision to make a deal with Edmonton — a team not on the list of his preferred destinations — and their failure to provide him with other “options” to choose from.

Heatley mention that word “options” more times than Sarah Palin mentions “death panels.” He was obviously straining to avoid saying anything negative about Edmonton, but the fact is he obviously had no intention of ever spending the upcoming winter in Alberta.

The distance between reality and Heatley is just mind-boggling. Only in the fantasy land pro athletes live in can a player demand a trade despite having a contract that runs through the 2013-14 season. But in Heatley’s fantasy land, there are teams lining up to add $7.5 million per season over that time to their payroll and their cap number, and devote it to a player whose numbers have dropped the last two seasons and a guy who has twice demanded a trade from his club.

If Heatley’s coming-out party today just days before the open of Hockey Canada’s Olympic orientation camp did anything, it had to convince teams considering a Heatley deal that they should look elsewhere (possibly to the still fertile unrestricted free agent pool) for additions to their squads. While at one point Heatley stated that past teammates and coaches will agree he’s a “team guy,” everything else he said proved that the prima donna persona he’s earned this summer is dead-on.

Barring a family situation or an absolute demotion to the sidelines by a club’s coaching staff, there really is no excuse for an athlete under contract to demand a trade out of town. Heatley doesn’t meet those criteria. But now he’s put his team and its fan base in a ridiculous situation.

It’s too bad that there’s no way for the Sens to win this battle because it just sets an awful precedent for the other 29 NHL teams and their star players. With so many guys locked up to long-term deals since the new CBA was signed, this could be an every-summer occurrence. Players that already enjoy some attractive free agent opportunities as part of the post-lockout agreement could now start picking and choosing their teams while they’re already signed. Let’s face it, this is one of the reasons the Bruins have shied away from the six- and eight-year deals some teams have through at core players. A lot can change over the course of a contract of that term, and then franchises can get into predicaments like Ottawa’s.

If the Sens trade Heatley to a team he likes, they’re never going to get fair value. But bringing back a guy who doesn’t want to be around and who obviously has more important things on his mind than team victories would be sabotage to their franchise. Unfortunately, sooner or later Heatley is going to win this war. And that could fire a shot across the bow of every team.

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