"Do I want to bring in a Dany Heatley with all that baggage? It might work. But I don't think we're in a position where we can afford that. ... Maybe a change of environment and he grows up. But my point is, do we need to take that risk right now? It scares me.
If your core is established and they've proven they can win, it's different. I think you can take that swing. I don't think we're in that position yet. Because if we're wrong, [Anze] Kopitar and [Dustin] Brown and [Drew] Doughty and these guys lose control. He becomes the room and then you have a huge problem. And he's not going to be controlled by them. That leadership group is not strong enough yet to deal with a guy who can change your team. I'm not saying those kids can't do it. It's still in the formative stages. I don't need to put that burden on them.They've still got to perform and go to another level." ~ The Cowardly Lion from The Wizard of Oz -- LA Times
Actually, the above quote should be accredited to the gun shy LA Kings General Manager, Dean Lombardi -- Who made this comment when asked about the prospect of acquiring Dany Heatley. Now, I can understand that the Kings brain trust have done their due diligence regarding Heatley's past. Ron Hextall's already gone on record saying that the Kings organization has beliefs that Heatley's had problems with a number of coaches dating back to his Atlanta Thrashers days.
"Look at this player's past. I'm going to spell it out as nicely as I can. He was in Atlanta, had an unfortunate (automobile) accident there and asked to be traded. OK, given the circumstances -- there was a young man killed -- I can live with that.
"He goes to Ottawa. He's on a pretty good team. They go to the finals. He signs a big contract. Bang. All of a sudden now he's got to be traded again. 'Not only do I have to be traded, I have a no-trade clause. I want to pick where I'm going to go.' Well, there are some issues there.
"He had his problems with his coach in Atlanta. My understanding is that he had problems with Craig Hartsburg at the start of last year in Ottawa. And he had problems with Cory Clouston.
Three coaches he's had a problem with. That raises huge red flags for us."
Okay. I get it. There's some inherent risk bringing in Heatley into the current dressing room. Especially with a young group of prospects who've accomplished sweet fuck all. Why bring in a player whose maturity has been questioned when you're waiting for your own core to mature and develop?
Instead, Lombardi and co. are completely willing to bring in an older, less productive but equally as expensive winger in Ryan Smyth.
Which makes recent comments by former King, Ray Ferraro, all the more interesting:
"First of all, not only have I been in the (dressing) room, I’ve roomed with Dany. I know him really well and the people that are talking that he’s toxic don’t know (expletive)! They don’t know anything about him"
It seemed to open up a can of worms for Ferraro. "There’s all kinds of rumors about Dany off the ice." He thought about his words carefully. "Everybody does whatever research they do but I’ve known Dany for over ten years now. He had to mature. Absolutely he did and he’d be the first guy to tell you that he had to mature."
Whether Ferraro was protecting an old friend or genuinely sticking up for him, he weighed in on what went wrong. "He had a terrible year last year because he wasn’t in shape. He signed a 50 million dollar contract in the summer and he kind of went on the “Summer of Dany” I called it. He had a lot of fun and he was going to ballgames and he was a half a step out of shape when he got to camp and so he had a terrible year." ~ courtesy Matthew Barry, Hockeybuzz
If this isn't the single best quote from the summer, I don't know what is. Dany Heatley's not toxic, he was just fat. Last year's problems had nothing to do with coaching, they had to do with a high caloric intake. Tits!
Seriously though, what are the odds that Dany Heatley becomes a disruptive presence in his next team's dressing room following this shitstorm of an offseason? Frankly, I'd think they're significantly less than the odds that Ryan Smyth, a 33 year old with a lot of mileage, will regress from his perennial 60-point form and become nothing more than an overpaid role-model.
So don't be passive Lombardi. Like the cowardly lion, you don't need to look for courage. You have the wherewithal and resources to make a deal that can help you and Ottawa. Please, just do everyone a favour and make Murray an offer. Or inherit the risk of watching Heatley suit up and torch you as a member of the San Jose Sharks.