H is for Heatley, as in Dany Heatley. His decline and bitter break-up with the team is well leaves me wondering: what Heatley's legacy with the Senators will ultimately be? He is a player who still elicits strong reactions from Sens fans almost three years after his departure. However, judging by the amount of people I still see wearing "adapted" #15 jerseys there is not only a reluctance to spend more money on jerseys, but also a reluctance to forget the betrayal and the successes.
So what will Heatley's Ottawa legacy be? Like many Sens fans, I often wish I could just forget him. But then, I remember how good the 2005-06 and the 2006-07 teams were. And it's hard to remember the Cup run and not think of Heatley's contributions. As terrible as the end of the Heatley era was, the beginning was spectacular. He scored at least a point in each of his first 22 games, one game short of Wayne Gretzky's all-time record 23 game point streak to begin his career in Los Angeles. He was the first Senator to get 50 goals in one season, which is still the Ottawa single season record. I was at the game when he separated his shoulder in a game against Detroit in January, 2008. I remember thinking immediately that the chance to hit 50 goals three straight times was gone and was crushed for Dany's sake. He missed 11 games and probably would have at least come close to 50, instead finishing with 41 goals. Heatley's 1.14 point-per-game pace as a Senator is tops among those who have played 100 games or more with the club. Since the lockout, only Heatley and Ovechkin have posted consecutive 50 goal seasons.
I often wish some new Sens star would just erase him from the team record books. Heatley holds the record for goals (50) and points (105) and is the only player in the team's history to hit both 50 goals and 100+ points twice. With an elite sniper as his winger, Spezza may still have the ability to reach 100 points in a season, but we don't currently have such a winger. Realistically, it seems like Heatley's achievements will be on record for a long time (fingers crossed for Karlsson!). While many of us hope he will get erased from the record book this might not happen. While the prolonged breakup was hurtful and bitter, Dany's continued silence throughout made the situation much more frustrating and embarrassing, and the rejection of the Edmonton deal was a last straw for many (including me), it's hard to overlook his contribution to the careers of his linemates. Without Heatley, it's doubtful Spezza would have had 70 assists in a season nor would Alfie have hit the 100 point mark in a season. And we all would have eaten considerably less pizza.
Many hockey fans watched with interest as the Flyers organization/Bobby Clarke welcomed Eric Lindros back to Philadelphia during the Winter Classic festivities in January. The Heatley-Ottawa relationship would seem a much more difficult one to repair in part because of owner Eugene Melnyk's public anger and a much more resentful fan base. Would time heal the wounds between Heatley and the organization? What about between Heatley and the fans? Does anyone actually want to move beyond the trade demand? Will his achievements one day be formally acknowledged by the organization?