Come October 2016 it will have been a decade since the beginning of Dany Heatley’s back to back 50 goal campaigns.
Today, the 35 year old “Heater” as he was once called amongst his teammates, is a member of the Nurnberg Ice Tigers of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga. If you haven’t heard of them, you aren’t alone.
What I find most interesting isn’t necessarily where Dany Heatley is, but how he got there.
Prior to his exodus from the NHL, Dany was renowned as one of, if not the leagues most dangerous scorer. 372 goals and 791 points in the NHL alone back that notion up. But how can one player experience such a fall from grace? It wasn’t a gradual one either, Mr. Heatley’s fall from relevance crashed harder than the Cincinnati Zoo’s twitter profile.
In order to properly gauge the scope of the situation you must start where it all began.
Dany’s time in Atlanta was a tale of two entirely different personalities. In his maiden season, he lead all rookies in points with 67 and was second in scoring behind teammate, Ilya Kovalchuk. Winning rookie of the year in 2001 was the cherry on top to what looked like the beginning of a promising career.
2002 saw him put up 89 points, good enough for 9th in league scoring. It was his best year he would have with the Thrashers.
2003 was a reality check for the super star in the making. In late September 2003, Dany lost control of his Ferrari, slammed into a wall, splitting the cabin in half, and ejected himself and teammate Dan Snyder from the car. Heatley suffered injuries to which he would recover. Snyder wasn’t so lucky, suffering from a skull fracture he would die 6 days later under intensive hospital care. The recoil was disastrous to Dany’s career.
In an attempt to leave the horrific memories of the fatal car crash behind him, Heatley requested a trade from Atlanta following the lockout season of 2004-05.
Heatley was traded to Ottawa for Marion Hossa. From there what was seen in Atlanta was a mere preview for what was to come north of the boarder.
Senator nation quickly adopted the Heatley, Spezza, Alfredson line as the most lethal in the game. Heatley scored 50 goals and recorded 103 points for 4th in the league.
One year later Heatley tallied yet another 50 goal campaign, just two shy of Vinny Lecavalier’s 52 for the league lead.
The offensively lead Senators battled to the Stanley Cup final in 2007, falling in 5 games to the Anaheim Ducks.
2007-08 was good but not great for Heatley, 41 goals and yet another trip to the playoffs. While they lost in 4 games to the Pittsburgh Penguins. The sky appeared to be the limit heading into 2008-09 despite a disappointing follow up to their Stanley Cup appearance.
However, 2008-09 wasn’t the jump start season the fans were hoping for. Hitting just 31 goals over that span, Heatley would yet again request a trade. Ottawa obliged him.
With 39 goals in his first go around with the San Jose Sharks, Heatley once again found chemistry with the best that the Sharks had to offer. Marleau, Thornton, Heatley made up the go to line for the Sharks. Propelling San Jose to the Conference final against the Chicago Blackhawks. If you know a thing or two, you can probably figure out that San Jose lost the series. Chicago swept the Sharks, scoring a goal late in the fourth game on the power play with Heatley in the box.
2010-11 was the beginning of the end for Heatley. Experiencing a career low in goals with just 26, while not horrific numbers by any means they are a far cry from what was expected of him. Following the conclusion of the season, it was revealed that he was playing with multiple nagging injuries in his second full season.
Ultimately Heatley fell out of favor with the San Jose Sharks. Especially since they were still on the books for his 7.5 million dollar cap hit. The writing was on the wall, “Heater” was beginning to fade away.
When the Minnesota Wild were willing to take risk on him, San Jose pounced on the opportunity.
53 points as a member of the Wild was not good enough to carry the team to the post season.
With a lockout yet again cutting into another season in 2012-13, Heately managed only 11 goals and 10 assists. Later in the season, Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s hit on Heatley put him on the shelf for the remainder of the season. Time became his number one enemy.
2013-14 was Heatley’s first glimpse towards his impending reality. 9 goals and 10 assists in his first 55 games to start the season. In the latter half of the same season he found himself kicking a can on the fourth line. Following that demotion, he was a healthy scratch for the first time in his career.
Minnesota made it to the playoffs in 2013-14 against the Chicago Blackhawks. Heatley was inserted into the lineup not only for his experience, but as a spark. While he was effective in certain areas, it wasn’t enough to pull the upset.
Signing a one year deal with Anaheim the following off season, Heatley would never suit up for a regular season game. Later in the year his rights were traded to Florida to help them stay within the realm of the salary cap. He was immediately assigned to Florida’s minor league team where he would finish the year. He only put up 20 points in the AHL.
With 32 points in 46 games in Europe last season, it would appear as if Heatley has found his home. Such is the conclusion of so many stories as they pertain to their NHL counterparts.
With all of that, Heatley remains the most peculiar. From 2004-2010 he was one of the best in the business. Regardless of previous successes, it took just three seasons to bury his old reputation. For the four time all-star and former rookie of the year, his fall from grace was anything but gradual or sustained.
While Dany Heatley may not be a regular NHLer anymore, he lives through his parody account on twitter. Besides, ‘who recorded back to back 50 goal seasons in 2006 and 2007’ makes for an interesting trivia question.
Just a lesson for you kids out there, nothing is guaranteed tomorrow.