Some varied observations as the NHL’s regular season draws closer:
• Dany Heatley is finally out of Ottawa – and thank goodness for that, if only because the hockey journalism profession was already well over the limit on the number of times we could use the word “suckhole” in any single off-season.
If Sens fans were hoping Heatley would be punished for his selfish trade demand by being shipped to a hockey backwater where all the pressure would rest on his seemingly weak shoulders, they learned another lesson as to the inherent unfairness of life.
Why? Because the San Jose Sharks organization is renowned for its nurturing family atmosphere and willingness to take on reclamation projects (Jeremy Roenick, Claude Lemieux). If Heatley can’t make it there, he really is a lost cause.
As well, the pressure to produce in the playoffs won’t be directed solely on Heatley. Between Joe Thornton, Evgeni Nabokov and Patrick Marleau, there will be more than enough fan and media animus to go around should things go wrong for San Jose in the post-season yet again.
Contrast that with the immense amount of focus and pressure that already envelops Jonathan Cheechoo and Milan Michalek – and for that matter, fellow newcomer Alex Kovalev – in Ottawa and it’s clear Heatley and the Sharks come out at least as short-term winners in the deal.
• You know what non-hockey news story I never want to read again? The “World’s Oldest Person Dies” story.
Guess what, bored journalists? The World’s Oldest Person never dies! Is there a World’s Oldest Person today? Do you imagine there will be a World’s Oldest Person 50 or 60 or 400 years from now?
For the sake of your IQ, I hope my point is made.
• The NHL ought to do everything in its power to bring Kanye West to the league’s awards night next June in Las Vegas. Picture the potential news headline-grabbing award presentation disruptions that would ensue:
“Yo Sid, I’m really happy for you. I’ll let you finish, but that Russian cat Ovechkin had one of the best seasons of all time. One of the best seasons of all time!”
If the league can make it happen, I’ll vow to never again reference Def Leppard on this blog.
• Another thought about the Phoenix Coyotes sale that threatens to drag on interminably:
Imagine what Gary Bettman and the league could’ve avoided had they figured out a way to placate both Jim Balsillie and the veto goblins at Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment when Balsillie first tried to become an NHL owner three years ago.
They wouldn’t have required the super-greasy quid pro quo that went down when then-Predators owner Craig Leipold landed the Minnesota Wild in exchange for freezing Balsillie out of the Preds sale.
They wouldn’t have had to open up the previously mysterious NHL constitution to public and legal scrutiny in an Arizona bankruptcy court.
They wouldn’t have dragged Wayne Gretzky’s good name through the mud.
And they wouldn’t have the embarrassment of being the first league in recent memory to engage in a nasty litigious war for control of one of its own franchises.
As millions of parents have said while admonishing a petulant child: I hope it was worth it.
Adam Proteau, co-author of the book The Top 60 Since 1967, is writer and columnist for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog will appear regularly in the off-season, his Ask Adam feature appears Fridays and his column, Screen Shots, appears Thursdays.
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