Finally, some news. And lots of it! Back to back press conferences from Heatley and Murray today and we can all jump back into the message boards and digest what we learned. Now most people will say that Heatley spat out some rehearsed answers, came across as a spoiled millionaire, and still didn't explain why he wants out. That was followed up by Murray giving the 'we'd welcome him back, I'll still try and trade him, but we need to start thinking about Heatley the Senator again'. Granted, Murray did share more details about how hard he's working on this trade and gave an honest answer about the teams on Heatley's list and their cap space issues. But at the end of the day, we're all still scratching our heads about Heatley's apparent 'diminished role' and his need for 'options'.
What Heatley's comments did, to be honest, was take me back to our interview with John Buccigross earlier in the summer. In it, he said "I somewhat sympathize with Heatley. He signed a contract he really couldn’t turn down in a place he didn’t really want to be. I imagine he has had trade in the back of his mind from the day he signed the contract. I don’t think it was as contrived as say Alex Rodriguez in Texas, but I do think he’s wanted to leave. He’s a good player and this should pass." We kinda wrote it off that it didn't make sense and Heatley could have just walked away if he didn't want to sign here.
But as we listen to Heatley today saying things like 'he's been thinking about this for a while' and he 'wants options', the more I am seeing some merit to Bucci's comments. Add to this our belief that his agents have shown an ability to play puppet master and advise him in his comments and actions. What does that math work out to on your calculator?
To me, I see a possibility that Heatley's intentions to be traded have come even before he signed his extension. Think about it - Heatley came here post-lockout as damaged goods, both physically and emotionally. The organization took him under their wing and helped him grow into one of the most prolific scorers of our generation. At the same time, he must have been missing the total anonymity of playing in Atlanta. At Phillips Arena, he could take off a shift or miss a backchecking assignment and nobody would notice (no offense to Thrashers fans). At Scotiabank Place, fans would notice every single stride he took, every pass he missed, every battle he avoided. While Heatley has somewhat of a free ride with fans (Spezza wore his blame like a professional), it was still a much tougher market to play in than his previous place.
So here he is, a 50-goal scorer with another year left on a contract and an eagerness to move back South where he could make his millions and be left alone. Not a problem - Muckler had him on a 3-year contract so he'd just play out the term and then could go wherever he wants.
Then this conversation takes place: "Hold the phone," says JP Barry, "you can't leave Ottawa as a free-agent after everything they've provided for you. Here's the plan, Dan. You are going to sign a long-term contract because you're a good soldier. You are going to ask for a no-movement clause because that's what stars do. You are going to play one season and then we will privately ask for a trade to a list of teams on a preferred list. Trust me, my clients discretely request trades all the time and it is just part of the business. You'll then have locked yourself in for 6 years making bank and you can still pick your team, just like you would have done as an unrestricted free agent. And when you think about it, we're doing the Sens a favour. Instead of leaving as a UFA and they get nothing, you are giving them an opportunity to trade you for value. We think that is fair and I'm sure Bryan Murray will, as well. I know you want to move and play outside of Canada, but just sit tight and let us take care of this. Ottawa will be happy that we're giving them a chance to trade you instead of getting Chara'd for thing, and you'll be happy because you can still hand pick your next team. Sign here for our commissions."
Before you write off this theory as ridiculous and one that took too long to develop, think about what I'm saying here. Dany has admitted that the thought for a trade has been brewing for a while. Is it so far-fetched that the no-movement clause and private trade request was contrived over a year ago by professional agents that do this for a living? They believed they would have all the benefits of free agency and the advantage of already having a long-term contract in hand. The short list of teams they provided Murray is the same as a player on July 1st taking offers from a handful of teams and choosing his favourite one.
Of course, this has all backfired for Heatley and his agent. Perhaps it WAS Murray that leaked the trade request, to remind Barry, McAlpine, and Heatley that he won't be played like this. Instead of having a quiet trade to the Sharks, Murray made sure from the start that Heatley would be exposed as the bad guy. Think about this - is there anybody outside of Heatley's immediate family and posse that has sympathy for him? If Murray had just traded him in June pre-draft, the fans wouldn't have understood why Heatley would be moved over Spezza and the team would look lost. Instead, everything gets out on the table and everyone is clear who caused this shatstorm. Well, played Sir Murray.
Okay, now you can have at it. Am I clutching at the air on this? Is my theory no different than all the other ridiculous rumours going around on the web? Or does this have merit? Think this over and let me know.
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