SAN JOSE, Calif. – Dany Heatley got on the ice for a few precious minutes Friday in his first practice with his new team.
Heatley skated with San Jose Sharks centre Joe Thornton and right-winger Devin Setoguchi, who make up one of the most potent top lines in the NHL. “It was more fun than skating by myself,” Heatley said in an introductory press conference. “I had fun with those two guys.
“It was fun to pass the puck and get a feel for them.”
Heatley had been working out on his own, with his father Murray, a former professional hockey player, following his trade request, which was leaked in June.
The former 50-goal scorer was traded to the Sharks, along with a fifth-round pick in 2010, to Ottawa for forwards Jonathan Cheechoo and Milan Michalek and a second-round 2010 pick.
“I feel good right now and I want to get going,” he said. “It was good to go back to Kelowna, B.C., and get away for a while.
“I got some ice time and I’ve been feeling good. It was tough mentally all summer but I felt confident something was going to happen.”
Heatley wasn’t likely to play in Friday night’s exhibition game against the Vancouver Canucks, but could be used sparingly Saturday night against the Phoenix Coyotes.
“This is a very good team with a great chance to win,” Heatley said. “I think we all understand that. I like the system.
“I think an offensive system makes the game fun and fast-paced. (Coach Todd McLellan) is a great communicator and puts everything out there. He tells you exactly what he wants.”
Heatley had an off-year by his standards with 39 goals, 33 assists and a minus-11 rating in 82 games last season. That’s his lowest point total in four seasons with the Senators after he asked the Atlanta Thrashers to trade him in 2005.
“We made ourselves a better team,” Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said. “To add a player of Dany’s talent and skills set is a rare thing.”
The six-foot-four, 221-pound forward is effective in traffic and the slot with his size and laser shot.
“I like shooting the puck,” Heatley said. “I’m ready to go.”
Heatley played with Canada in the 2006 Olympics and hopes to rejoin the national team under Steve Yzerman when it is announced in December.
He’s Canada’s all-time leading goal scorer in international play.
Heatley, named the top rookie in 2002, was voted onto five all-star teams and owns the Senators team records for goals (50) and points (105) in a season.
Heatley, who has 260 goals and 283 assists in 507 regular games split between Atlanta and Ottawa, is due to make US$8 million this year.
In 2005, Heatley pleaded guilty to four of six charges of vehicular homicide and was sentenced to three years probation. He was the driver of a vehicle that crashed Sept. 29, 2003, killing teammate and close friend Dan Snyder.