So Ottawa Senators coach Cory Clouston and sniper Dany Heatley may, or may not, be at odds over something or other these days.
Is their alleged “rift” the product of a 24-hour news cycle and talk radio blowhards or is there more to it than that?
If I'm the new coach of the Ottawa Senators, I'm not really happy with Heatley or any of his other teammates these days. It seems that whoever is in charge behind the Senators bench, there is a sense of entitlement and a country club attitude that won’t go away.
So, bravo to Clouston for trying to change all of that. Not only has he had his out-of-shape players sucking wind with his up-tempo workouts, he had the audacity to point out that a player who is pulling down $10 million this season - $7.5 million against the salary cap - isn't exactly producing the kind of season requisite with that salary.
The fact is, it doesn't matter whether Clouston is upset with Dany Heatley these days. Even if he isn't, he should be.
As is the case with most of his teammates, Heatley's game has slipped dramatically this season. In fact, he really hasn't been the same player since he essentially disappeared in the Stanley Cup final in 2007.
After posting seasons of plus-29, plus-31 and plus-33 in his first three years in Ottawa, Heatley is on pace to record a disastrous minus-15 this season. He's on pace to score just 35 goals and after recording 300-plus shots in each of his first two seasons in Ottawa, Heatley's shot totals will be in the low 200s for the second straight season. After another good start, he has gone periods of six and eight games without scoring a goal.
That indicates a couple of things: that Heatley isn't working hard enough to get his stick on the puck and he's not going to the dirty areas players need to go in order to score goals.
Of course Heatley is not alone in this. He's just one of a number of Senators who chose this season to have their games go down the sinkhole. But when a star player isn't playing to his capabilities - and there's nobody who could argue Heatley isn’t doing that - he can expect to hear it from his coach once in a while.
This column also appears in the Ottawa Metro newspaper.
Ken Campbell is a senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Wednesday and Fridays and his column, Campbell's Cuts, appears Mondays.
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