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Tencer's Blog: Two sides to the Dany debate

Thursday, 02.07.2009 / 4:07 PM / Blogs
By Dan Tencer
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Tencer\'s Blog: Two sides to the Dany debate
Should the Oilers fight to see Heatley in copper & blue? Some say yes, some say no. Dan Tencer says both.
So, Dany Heatley doesn't want to waive his No Movement Clause to come to Edmonton; at least not yet. Not on a timeline that would make life easy for the Senators, or the Oilers for that matter. So now, if you're Steve Tambellini, you have a decision to make. Do you continue to pursue this transaction?
 
Why the answer should be yes
 
Dany Heatley is an elite calibre scoring talent, something the Oilers have not had, arguably, in almost two decades. In Heatley's last four seasons he's scored 50 goals twice and his lowest total was his 39 goal output last year. To contrast, in the last 17 seasons the Oilers have had precisely one player score 39 goals; Ryan Smyth accomplished the feat in 1996-97. The team is coming off a season in which a defenseman led them in goal scoring (Sheldon Souray had 23, tied with Ales Hemsky), the first time that's happened in the history of the franchise. While the argument can be made that the future of the offense is in good hands with talents like Sam Gagner, Jordan Eberle and Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson, this is a team that has missed the playoffs for three straight years. The franchise, and its fan base, want that slide to end. Now.

VIDEO: Senators GM Bryan Murray | Senators forward Jason Spezza 
 
Heatley would become the star player that the Oilers haven't had since Chris Pronger departed and lacked for so many years before that. The drawbacks and red flags have become obvious but, to paraphrase an old John Muckler line, "Having a bunch of great guys in the room is nice, but maybe we need a couple asses that can play hockey." In today's NHL if you want the 'perfect' player, the Sidney Crosby or Alex Ovechkin who has all-star talent and all-star character, you need to draft and develop him yourself. And, that takes time. If you want to improve immediately it's not realistic to wait for one of those 'perfect' players to come available somehow. Especially if you're a franchise that has struggled to acquire elite talent via free agency.
 
Dany Heatley isn't the perfect player; but he would be, inarguably, a significant upgrade to the current Oilers roster.
 
Why the answer should be no
 
I'd like to lead in to this by sharing with you one of the many text messages that I've received over the course of this crazy soap opera. The author, a source from another organization, gave this thought: "They need to demonstrate some show of pride. It's like they're begging him. Playing for the Oilers should be a privilege."

Read that last line again. "Playing for the Oilers should be a privilege."
 
He's right. It'd be a privilege to play anywhere in the NHL, of course, but especially here. The history, the passion of the fan base, the flat-out first class organization that has been taken to another echelon under the guidance of Daryl Katz. The Oilers might not be located in a tropical climate or on the verge of a Stanley Cup parade, but they oughta be damned if they beg somebody to play for them. By giving him the NMC in his contract the Ottawa Senators gave him the power in situations such as this; they don't have a bullet to fire, other than refusing to trade him. They are, without alternative, playing by Dany Heatley's rules now. The Oilers, on the other hand, are not.
 
We don't know all the details here. Heck, we know very few of them. But, what we do know is that for two straight days, Dany Heatley has rejected every request to waive his NMC to move to the Oilers. There could be, for all we know, very specific reasons why Heatley is handling himself the way he is. And, for all we know, the Oilers might have been told straight up from the outset that it was a long shot. But, in any case, it's tough to continue down this path while retaining your dignity. The appearance, at least, is that this is another player rejecting this team and this city. They've asked him nicely, even traveled to his home to ask in person, and now it's time to move on. Time to find another player who would feel privileged to play here.

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Author: Dan Tencer

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