Well, Dany Heatley can scratch the Los Angeles Kings off his list of potential destinations when wheeling and dealing his own trade away from the Ottawa Senators. Although it is widely believed the Kings were one of the Crazy Eight (the eight teams Heatley was willing to be traded to after demanding a trade from the Senators), LA GM Dean Lombardi made it abundantly clear he wasn't looking at Heatley as a reasonable acquisition. From the Los Angeles Times:
"Do I want to bring in a Dany Heatley with all that baggage? It might work," Lombardi said. "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."
You know what, Dean-O? It would scare me, too, if I were in your position.
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I'm not going to jump into the rumours about Heatley being bad in the dressing room, or the counter-rumours (thank you, Ray Ferraro) about him being a great guy for his teammates. I don't really care, and for this instance, it doesn't really matter. Would Heatley make the Kings a better team? More than likely, in terms of skill alone. But would his dominating presence--as one of the most experienced players on a rebuilding and very promising Kings squad--in the dressing room, on the ice, on the bench, and as a centre of the team's offence, be a negative impact on the development of the Kings' future leadership core? I'd say that's at least as likely as the first question, if not more.
If I were a Kings fan--to say nothing of a young prospect on the Kings' roster--I'd be thanking Lombardi for his foresight. The team and its fans may have to go through another season of missed playoffs, or possibly even two, before the core is good enough to seriously contend, but patience is a big part of building a winning team. Look at the Pittsburgh Penguins. Look at the Chicago Blackhawks. Look at the Wayne Gretzky-era Edmonton Oilers. Hell, look at the Ottawa Senators of seven or so years ago. These are teams which allowed their cores to develop together, and they repaid them with success--in the Chicago and Pittsburgh examples, success which is really just beginning. Acquiring Heatley could be a short-term fix for LA's goal-scoring problems, but he wouldn't help the players gel with one another into the tight-knit group that you need to win in this league.
To be honest, I thought Heatley actually was in the Senators' tight-knit leadership group, and so did GM Bryan Murray--you've got to expect that's why he signed him to a six-year, $45M contract a couple years back. Turns out Heatley didn't see that for himself, though, or he would have given this team--and, more importantly, his teammates--more respect than he has.