Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Over the last week or so, I have wondered if media types ever get tired of getting what they wanted.

All summer long the media has been salivating over the prospect of an actual media event with Dany Heatley. Without real, hard news to go on, the media has enjoyed the opportunity to speculate as to Heatley's real or imagined complaints, as well as to drag what is left of his character through the mud. The resulting column inches have ranged from insightful analysis through studied indifference and ending at borderline-libelous vitriol.

But last week, Heatley ran out of time to hide and popped up at a media event just before the Olympic team orientation camp.

At which he said precisely nothing new.

This led to another brief round of analysis touting how selfish and unrealistic Heatley's views on his role in the team really is. But since then, since Heatley has continued to say precisely nothing new, the story has almost totally run out of air.

Which I suppose is a 20-20-hindsight lesson for the Heatley camp. If he'd had this media event in June when the story broke, it would have been all over by Canada Day. Well until his refusal to go to Edmonton breathed new life into it, but even that would have lasted less than a week.

In the absence of facts, the media is free to churn itself into a frenzy over theories, rumors, and speculation. Throwing facts on the fire will result in a brief burst of coverage, but after that it will fizzle out for the most part.

Now the collective media has a problem: how to continue to breathe life into this story now that speculation is off the table.

Personally my view hasn't changed -- I have been a proponent of trading Heatley for hockey reasons since last season. I still think that Heatley could be traded for the proverbial bag-o-pucks, just because $7 million in cap space can buy a lot of second-line talent in today's league; any value above that, assuming it is real value and not just an assortment of random parts, would be a bonus.

But what is probably going to happen is that Heatley will still be an Ottawa Senator in the fall. He'll get roundly booed the first few games, but his trick of putting the puck in the net will win back the fans. The result will be that the fanbase will be once again firmly behind him and will feel betrayed by the Senators organization when the inevitable trade happens around Christmas.

All of which will probably generate more column inches all over the place, here included. But only on matters which are truly speculative.