Photo via Norfolk Admirals Facebook Page
With his demotion to the AHL and him subsequently reporting, the question now is what’s going to become of Dany Heatley when it comes to his career. Of course, it hasn’t been the best year for Heatley in the NHL and in the two games he had in a conditioning stint with the Norfolk Admirals earlier this year had him with zero points and a minus-3 in two games; but there’s always a chance for redemption, especially for teams who think they can pick up a former 50-goal scorer on the cheap and revitalize him in their system.
But what happened with Heatley?? It’s almost as if after his first year in San Jose, he lost his game and thus lost the trust of coaches in certain situations and positions. Was it a confidence issue for him or was it an issue of just losing his game out of nowhere like many before him have lost it?? Knowing that risk, the Anaheim Ducks took the chance in hopes that Heatley could get his game back on track, but thanks to injuries, inconsistency, and younger players stepping up to take over his spot, now Heatley has to hope that the AHL is going to be the place where he will play his way back into a NHL line-up: in Anaheim or elsewhere.
Yet, it could be what Heatley does off the ice that could make or break him, especially with the position he has been in right now.
There have been many before Heatley to be sent to the AHL, mostly for salary cap relief for nothing else. Some guys were able to deal with it in some kind of grace, like Wade Redden— who took a mentor role when he was in Hartford and helped coach the Whale/Wolf Pack when he was down there. Though he was a little taken aback by the situation, Redden did his best to make a bad situation more bearable for himself.
However, there are others like Sheldon Souray who had to be taken out of the Edmonton Oilers organization because sending him to their AHL affiliation in Oklahoma City during the 2010-11 season is because the Oilers thought he would be toxic to their young prospects coming up, as if Souray would sabotage Oilers’ management to these youngsters and make them sour on the whole organziation. Therefore, Souray was sent to the Hershey Bears that season and was around guys like Dmitri Orlov, Braden Holtby, Jay Beagle, and Mathieu Perreault to name a few. Despite an early injury, Souray made the most of it and then got other chances in the NHL after that.
So the task right now for Heatley is what road he wants to take and how he wants to be remember in terms of a player. With his not-so-memorable first stint in Norfolk this season ending in nothing more than showing his injury wasn’t going to get worse in the near future, he moved up to Anaheim to do nothing there either.
Despite that, what are the goals for Heatley in a short-term happenstance?? Is it to actually show he can stay healthy or it’s more about being productive?? Team player or showing himself off to other teams that he can score regularly again?? There’s a lot of challenges for Heatley and for the Admirals coaching staff who need to figure out which way Heatley is going to turn. According to Admirals’ fan blog Beneath the Scope; Heatley didn’t look all that well in his conditioning stint and probably won’t provide the Admirals with the offense needed there.
As he creeps up on his 34th birthday, odds are we are seeing the last throws from a once great superstar in the NHL. The pressure is on him in order to make the most of this ride– to go out in a blaze of glory or fizzle out with a whimper and people wondering what actually happened to you come trade deadline time and beyond. It starts today, as the Admirals have a two-game set at home against Lehigh Valley. It should be the most interesting stories this month to look at and if Heatley can do something out of this demotion.