Dany Heatley's Diminished Role

By now, we all have heard time and time again that Dany Heatley's reason for leaving the Ottawa Senators is a diminished role with the club. A lot of people, myself included, did not really notice any diminshed role - hell, the guy was made Alternate Captain. The only notable demotion was being put on the second power play unit, but that was more so that he could run that powerplay as it was completely ineffective without a scorer.

I decided to check out the numbers. Obviously, the best comparison is between Dany's 2006-07 regular season and the 08-09 one, because he signed his long-term contract extension after the 06-07 season, meaning he was quite content with his role back then.

2006-07 Regular Season

Shifts/Game 23.9
Short Handed Time on Ice/Game 0:45
Power Play Time on Ice/Game 4:59
Even Strength Time on Ice/Game 15:17
Total Time on Ice/Game 21:01

2008-09 Regular Season

Shifts/Game 22.1
Short Handed Time on Ice/Game 0:22
Power Play Time on Ice/Game 4:05
Even Strength Time on Ice/Game 15:38
Total Time on Ice/Game 20:06

The numbers show a slight decrease in ice-time for Dany overall, as well as in the special teams department. He actually increased in even strength time on ice. It should be noted, though, that most Senators' ice-time decreased last season, including forward leader Daniel Alfredsson. It's worth noting that last season, just like 2008-09, Dany was second out of forwards on the team in total time on ice. His biggest drop was on the power play, where he went from first out of forwards to third, behind Alfie and Jason Spezza. Though Heatley didn't spend much time penalty killing, that's only because the team has a number of great penalty killers, and therefore it's smarter to save Dany's legs for a shift where he has a better opportunity to score. For comparison's sake, Spezza only had 0:15 short handed time on ice this past season.

However, we can break this down even further, by comparing Dany's time under Craig Hartsburg, and under Cory Clouston. Under Hartsburg, Heatley averaged 21:00/game, while under Clouston, his time was cut to 18:50/game. As you can see, Dany lost approximately two minutes per game in the transition from Hartsburg to Clouston, which may be where his discontent stems from. However, Dany wasn't the only player to lose time once Clouston came in, as the new coach spread out the icetime more between players in order to preserve the top line's energy.

Do these numbers indicate a truly diminished role for Dany? I really don't see it. Though he does spend less time on the ice, so do the rest of his teammates - he's not being treated unfairly at all. Heatley gets pretty much the same amount of icetime as his linemates, and the only area he lacks icetime is on the penalty kill. Puck Daddy's Greg Wyshynski put it best: "So there you go; obviously, he wants to be Chris Kelly."

Update: James Mirtle has posted a similar article with a real fancy graph - be sure to check it out.

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