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Yeo on Heatley: ‘I’m not going to say he’s at his best right now’

Oct 16, 2013, 1:10 PM EST

Dany Heatley Getty Images

With zero goals, one assist, a minus-1 rating and just 12 shots through seven games this season, it’s clear Dany Heatley is struggling to make an impact with the Wild.

Just ask his head coach.

“I’m not going to say he’s at his best right now,” Mike Yeo told the Minnesota Star-Tribune following Tuesday’s 4-1 loss to Toronto. “But I also know that he’s capable of more, and I also know that we need him right now.

“It’s easy to say, ‘Let’s just take him out,’ but with who? Who do you put in instead?”

Considered to be a prime compliance buyout candidate this summer, Heatley was “saved” by the fact he was nursing a shoulder injury.

Injured players were ineligible to be bought out, meaning Minnesota had to retain Heatley and his $7.5 million cap hit — the highest on the team — for one more year.

If there’s a bright side, it’s that Heatley’s deal is up at the end of the year…but that’s small reward for a Minnesota team looking to improve upon last season’s eighth-place finish in the Western Conference. The Wild want results now.

That said, GM Chuck Fletcher is trying to preach patience with the situation.

“I think it’s too early for anything, whether you’re winning or losing, you have to give it a lot more than six games on any player,” Fletcher said. “There’s a tendency in every sport to overreact on any little positive or negative early in the season.

“It’s human nature, I get it. But there’s 76 games to go.”

  1. kingsfan93 - Oct 16, 2013 at 1:55 PM

    Dany Heatley’s greater days were when he played for Atlanta and Ottawa. Since then he has been average. But he is a good playoff performer. However he is only 32yrs old and I am sure he has a lot left in the tank too. Not that Minnesota is a bad team, but maybe Dany Heatley needs to play on a team that fits the type of playing style that he like?

    • c9castine - Oct 16, 2013 at 1:58 PM

      I getyourpoint but guys like that shouldn’t need to be ona specific team to produce….this guy at one time was a top 7 player in this league. I watched one wild game and he just looked like he was playing pond hockey….not compete level and no strategy just wheeling it around

    • guitarhunterdude - Oct 16, 2013 at 2:50 PM

      It’s become painfully obvious that Heatley just doesn’t love the game as much as players who remain great as they get older (Selanne, Jagr, Alfredsson) do. He doesn’t have the drive or desire to get himself in top shape, and he’s no longer fast enough to get by. He never had much else going for him other than good hands and a cannon of a shot, now he’s slowed down enough that he can’t keep up with the game, no matter where he plays. I’m holding out hope that he’ll be able to at least contribute on the PP this year, but that hope’s wearing thin fast. The guy doesn’t belong on the ice any more, bottom line.

    • getadealdonealready - Oct 16, 2013 at 5:44 PM

      Kingsfan,

      Not sure I understand your point. You seem to be stuck in the past, as MN is a puck possession team that will be a playoff contender this year. Heater doesn’t have the skill to fit in on their top two lines, and when Coyle comes back my guess is he is out of the lineup, if his performance doesn’t improve. In addition he doesn’t have the mind set or work ethic to be a 3rd or 4th line player, and can’t seem to get his shot off anymore. I hope he can figure it out, but it doesn’t seem to be coming easy to him right now, and he doesn’t seem to have chemistry with any players in the wild’s top 6-8 forwards. He performed best when with Seto and Brodziak last year, otherwise he seems to slow to play at a high level anymore.

      Remember where you heard it, if the wild can get consistent goaltending they have the roster to compete with the big boys this year. The problem is I’m not sure Backstrom is the answer (too streaky), and Hardings long term health is an issue, while their younger goalies seem to be 2-3 years away from being ready.

  2. Jeff - Oct 16, 2013 at 2:14 PM

    Heatley also leads the league in no. of times falling down while trying to shoot

  3. gooterbaby - Oct 16, 2013 at 4:55 PM

    Dude had a solid first year with the Wild then just went downhill from there. No excuses he’s not getting to the puck and just lingers around the ice while his teammates battle for it. Granlund has done a good job of digging the puck out and putting it out in front of the net but there never seems to be anyone there.

  4. slickvb82 - Oct 16, 2013 at 5:14 PM

    The problem with Heatley is his lack of hustle. Its almost like he doesnt care. Anyone that watches his game right now should be able to see the poor effort in 90% of his game. He clearly has another level of skating ability that for some reason he only uses at certain times (back checking). Its really frustrating as a Wild fan to sit here and watch a guy thats paid so high act as if he can stand around and make others on his line make a play for him. Why doesn’t he have a goal and only one assist? There’s your answer.

  5. mnbiggie - Oct 16, 2013 at 8:20 PM

    It isnt lack of hustle or Yeo would have shut him down, he’s shot, no legs, but they always say he’s got great hands! If he went into the corners he’d never make it back down the ice, so he waits on everyone else to cycle the puck out, move Heater to the 4rth line, better yet try and trade him, vellieux, and backstrom, bring zucker up, at least he skates his ass off.

    • slickvb82 - Oct 16, 2013 at 10:32 PM

      It absolutely is lack of hustle. Yeo came into the year saying Heatley was in the best shape he’d seen him in MN yet, leaner, faster, hungry, healthy so on. Its not that he doesnt have the legs anymore, as I said he clearly shows he can still skate, its like he chooses not to most of the time. As far as trading him, do you really think any team in the league is going to take on his ridiculous contract?? Absolutely not. And what will dropping him to the 4th line do?? He would do more damage on a 4th line than good.

  6. joeyashwi - Oct 17, 2013 at 9:30 AM

    Heatley, a first, and a third for Vanek. Salaries are comparable and the Wild can sign Vanek to a five or six year deal. Yes I’m dreaming….

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