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The mighty fall of Dany Heatley

Jul 13, 2014, 10:00 PM EDT

Dany Heatley AP

There are quite a few things that are stunning about Anaheim Ducks forward Dany Heatley. Let’s consider some of the broadest points first:

  • Somehow, he’s only 33 years old.
  • He saw a Gomezian drop from a cap hit perspective, as he took up $7.5 million with the Minnesota Wild and now just $1 million with the Ducks. (His actual salary drop is more modest, yet he still cost the Wild $5 million last season.)
  • More than a few people think that he’s not even worth $1 million … and they’re not being outrageously unfair by saying so, either.

It’s stunning to ponder just how far this two-time 50-goal and 100-point producer has fallen in less than a decade. The Hockey News’ Jason Kay points out that the publication ran a cover story touting him as “The Face of the NHL” just eight years ago.

Cold by any metric

Even just looking at scoring alone, he’s basically gotten worse every year (noting the abbreviated 2012-13 season):

2009-10 (with the San Jose Sharks) – 39 goals, 82 points
2010-11 (also with the Sharks) – 26 goals, 64 points
2011-12 (first with Minnesota Wild) – 24 goals, 53 points
2012-13 (with the Wild) – 11 goals, 21 points in 36 games
2013-14 (final with the Wild) – 12 goals, 28 points

(The most dramatic moments came when he was a $7.5 million healthy scratch in the 2014 playoffs, but the bigger picture isn’t pretty.)

Normally, it might be fair to consider other things like time spent killing penalties, but Heatley logged 37 seconds of shorthanded time last season. This isn’t a matter of being doomed by bad puck luck, either; Heatley’s shooting percentage hasn’t ever dipped below the 10.9 mark from last season. Going deeper with advanced stats doesn’t help the hobbling winger’s cause, either, as his possession numbers declined even as he faced easier situations.

By any reasonable account, Heatley seems like he’s toast … although he vehemently disagrees.

Getzlaf – Perry or bust

The question is: can the Ducks get anywhere near $1 million worth of value out of him (ignoring the “holding back budding prospects” argument for the sake of brevity).

Say what you will about Heatley, it at least seems like he’s aware of easily the most likely scenario in which he makes an impact: finishing opportunities created by the Ryan GetzlafCorey Perry combo. It almost seems like his stated goal, really:

“My job is to get in shape and be ready to play with those two guys,” Heatley said. “I know those guys, and I’ve played with both of them, particularly Getzy. I love playing with the guy. He’s one of the best players in the league, as is Corey Perry. We’ll see what Bruce [Boudreau] wants to do. But my job is to be ready to go and be ready to get a chance with those two guys.”

Considering the enormous gulf between Getzlaf (87 points), Perry (82) and everyone else (Nick Bonino scored the third-most points with 49 and he was traded to Vancouver), it’s easy to see the best-case scenario for Heatley. It’s also reasonable to imagine, as the Ducks’ dynamic duo didn’t really see a regular linemate last season once Dustin Penner was traded.

***

Despite a lot of evidence to the contrary, Heatley could fall into the perfect situation in which the Ducks get the most out of him … if he has anything left, that is.

  1. phxyotes - Jul 13, 2014 at 10:11 PM

    Rubber legs is done. Must be nice to have a million dollars to waste on a guy who needs to retire. It is rather surprising at 33 his legs are already gone, maybe his old buddy Dan Snyder cursed his dumb ass.

    • phillyphanatic77 - Jul 13, 2014 at 10:34 PM

      Wow that’s pretty harsh. I think people need to remember that Heatley has been in the NHL for 13-14 seasons… way more than most players last. It’s no surprise that he’s slowed down after that amount of wear. The Flyers are seeing a similar decline with Lecavalier (though not as steep). Still, Heatley’s leg may be betraying him but his shot hasn’t. Get the guy the puck in or around the net and he’s still gonna hit twine. It’s not as if Getzlaf and/or Perry need help carrying the puck into the offensive zone (if he is playing with them). If Dustin Penner, with pretty terrible mobility in his own right, was able to be productive next to those two stars then I don’t see why Heatley couldn’t net atleast 20 goals. And that would be a huge bargain considering what a goal costs teams in today’s marketplace. I think he’ll be ok.

      There’s no need to bring Snyder into the discussion.

      • kaptaanamerica - Jul 13, 2014 at 11:17 PM

        without bringing Snyder into the conversation, Heatley can’t skate, lacks heart, and generally is out of position, and plainly sucks iron balls… the guy is as useful as thomas kaberle, wade redden, scott gomez or any of other overrated useless turd…

      • storminator16 - Jul 14, 2014 at 7:45 AM

        Its not off-limits. He got a guy killed. He has to live with that and it is 100% ok to always bring up his shame. I will never understand why folks say it is off limits. He freaking killed a guy.

      • shaundre93 - Jul 14, 2014 at 12:48 PM

        They were both drunk, no? In my eyes I see that as equal fault. They both made the decision to get in the car. It just as easily could have been Snyder driving. I don’t think its fair to pin his death on Heatly like that, they both f’d up, unfortunately it cost Dan a lot more.

    • kaptaanamerica - Jul 13, 2014 at 11:20 PM

      • lordfletcher - Jul 14, 2014 at 1:54 AM

        Song sucks …. Didn’t have to hit play either, band name says it all

      • ignath - Jul 14, 2014 at 7:50 AM

        Rascal Flatts is the Nickelback of country “music”

    • storminator16 - Jul 14, 2014 at 7:41 AM

      I’m not going to say “he needs to retire”, but Heatley is barely an NHL player at this point. Watch him skate; it is quite evident he can’t be where he needs to be on the ice at times. I don’t think he’ll make it out of Ducks training camp. Not sure what Bob Murray is doing this summer.

    • twerkslikeMiley - Jul 14, 2014 at 11:50 AM

      Someone from Arizona pretending to know anything about hockey?

  2. pmonte3122 - Jul 13, 2014 at 10:12 PM

    #50in07

  3. mnjoemama - Jul 13, 2014 at 10:23 PM

    He couldn’t breath in Colorado during the playoffs ! Let alone skate. I thought he was going to die . Not a smart move ! Skol Wild

    • wutangwild - Jul 14, 2014 at 12:51 AM

      Yes, he got benched, but what happened when he came back? Except for being a key player in that game 7, where he sent a tape to tape breakout pass to Brodz/Nino for that series clinching snipe. Plus he buried the rebound in case the refs weren’t in on it

  4. alicesrightfootesq - Jul 13, 2014 at 11:03 PM

    I hope he turns his career around.

  5. AppealToReason - Jul 13, 2014 at 11:15 PM

    For money like that its not terrible. Even if he only puts in 12-13 goals and plays with 30 points. There are players that contribute far less that are getting paid about the same or even more.

    If he does well and can pop 16-18 goals then it’ll be even better. Worst case scenario is he flames out and oh well, its 1mil in cap space on a team with plenty of space. This is basically the Dustin Penner signing but for even less money

  6. justanotherphillyfan - Jul 13, 2014 at 11:38 PM

    I think there should be an unspoken rule between all GM’s of NHL clubs that nobody signs those kinda players but add younger talent to the line-up instead.

    It’s sad this guy gets a 1M contract based on what he did in Atlanta + maybe a fair chance to play on the top line next to Perry and Getzlaf in Anaheim.
    To me that’s only a sign that says.. screw up and it’s gonna be okay.

    IF they signed him to a tryout contract and give him 1M after camp if he proved to be in shape and wants to play hockey that would be something else but this is just sloppy management.
    On what firm would you get 1M with his track record.

    • lordfletcher - Jul 14, 2014 at 1:57 AM

      Your comment is so bad I needed to let you know. Thumbs down isn’t enough here

    • tronn25 - Jul 14, 2014 at 12:11 PM

      Because Gaborik didn’t work out AT ALL this year in LA right?

  7. purpleguy - Jul 13, 2014 at 11:39 PM

    It’s real simple — his legs are gone and even his hands aren’t what they used to be (and he wasn’t that great of a skater to start with). Having said that, he was a very well-respected team-mate and player by most everyone in the Wild organization. Someone above said he has no heart, but that was never a complaint by anyone from the Wild. For only $1M, the Ducks can park him in front of the net on the power play.

  8. sjrulz17 - Jul 13, 2014 at 11:56 PM

    F**k the fans. He’s an Allstar and doesn’t care what haters have to say. #50in07

    • govtminion - Jul 14, 2014 at 8:04 AM

      A reminder, kids: Don’t feed the trolls.

  9. blomfeld - Jul 14, 2014 at 2:06 AM

    On September 29, 2003, Heatley was driving a Ferrari 360 Modena with Thrashers teammate Dan Snyder in the passenger seat. Heatley, who was driving between 55-82 MPH in a 35 MPH zone, lost control and skidded into a brick pillar and iron fence. Six days later, Snyder died from his injuries. Heatley was charged with vehicular homicide as a result of the crash. He pleaded guilty to second-degree vehicular homicide, driving too fast for conditions, failure to maintain a lane, and speeding. He was sentenced to three years probation and ordered to give 150 speeches on the dangers of speeding, and pay $25,000 to Fulton County for the cost of investigating the crash.

    • govtminion - Jul 14, 2014 at 8:09 AM

      Well, I suppose this is all true, at least. Problem is, it’s true and irrelevant. A mistake the man made 11 years ago- and for which he paid his penance ordered by the courts, mind you- isn’t a good reason to keep beating on the guy. What happened was tragic, and was absolutely the result of Heatley making very poor decisions- there’s nothing to dispute there. But continuing to hold this over his head over a decade later is ludicrous- not meaning it to be glib, but there’s far better reasons at this point to question signing Heatley than this.

    • 76ersdoubletank - Jul 14, 2014 at 8:09 AM

      So what does this have to do with hockey, and the type of player that is/is not anymore? I get why people bring this up when they talk about Heatley. What a horrible situation for Snyder and his family. But I would venture to say that if you gave 99% of the population a Ferrari in their 20’s, they may have found themselves speeding at some point. You just have to hope that you’re fortunate enough to not have something like this happen.

  10. jacketsfan7 - Jul 14, 2014 at 7:21 AM

    This is his bounce back year, I’m calling at least 20 goals this year

  11. jhnyr45 - Jul 14, 2014 at 10:11 AM

    #20in14-15

  12. dprouse - Jul 14, 2014 at 11:49 AM

    The only place Heatley could get 20 goals this year is in Europe. I’m not sure what Bob Murray saw in him – maybe he just figures that a million is a worthwhile gamble, and that they’ll just waive him and get rid of him by Christmas if it isn’t working out. His declining game from the last few seasons tells you everything you need to know – hoping that a guy can magically pull himself out of a career tailspin at age 33 doesn’t seem very realistic.

  13. buddysguys - Jul 14, 2014 at 12:32 PM

    is he still a drunk? That might have something to do with it.

  14. phxyotes - Jul 14, 2014 at 9:45 PM

    I agree with the guy that said the money is better spent on a couple of young guys. At least they’ll have the ability to play some defense. As it stands now Heatly can’t even defend himself he’s so slow. The friggen snow shovel girls between commercial breaks could beat him in a race on the ice.

  15. bc - Jul 15, 2014 at 8:11 AM

    Since Gomezian a word I didn’t bother reading the article.

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