|Senators forward Dany Heatley scored four goals in the 2003 NHL All-Star Game and was named the most valuable player (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images).
Dany Heatley is right at home among hockey's best players.
When the puck drops Sunday night in Montreal for the annual National Hockey League All-Star Game, the Ottawa Senators forward won't exactly be a stranger to the moment. Officially, it'll be his third all star appearance – the others came in 2003 and 2007 – but the fourth time he's been named to the Eastern Conference squad. A shoulder injury kept him out of last year's mid-season affair in Atlanta.
"It's always a fun weekend and it should be a good time in Montreal, with their 100th anniversary and everything," Heatley said as he cast his eyes toward Sunday's game. "The NHL does a great job. It's fun to meet up with some other guys and play with some other guys from around the league.
"I didn't get to go last year but I'm getting another chance this year."
Few NHL players can say they made a more auspicious all-star debut than the one Heatley turned in at the National Car Rental Center in Sunrise, Fla., in 2003. Then with the Atlanta Thrashers, Heatley scored four goals – all in the first two periods – and was named the game's most valuable player, even though the West beat the East 6-5.
Another reason, no doubt, why Heatley calls his first all-star appearance "the most special."
"I remember (Jaromir) Jagr was there, (Jeremy) Roenick was there, a lot of big names I grew up watching," said Heatley, who enters the all-star game with 43 points (21 goals, 22 assists) in 44 games for the Senators this season. "Being in the same room and playing in the game with them was pretty cool."
Surely, the performance was much more than Heatley expected when he arrived in Florida for the game.
"Maybe, just maybe, I would get a goal," Heatley wrote in his recently released book, Dominant Dany Heatley
. "To shoot and see the red light just once in an all-star game was a dream. One goal, that's all I wanted."
"I remember (Jaromir) Jagr was there, (Jeremy) Roenick was there, a lot of big names I grew up watching. Being in the same room and playing in the game with them was pretty cool." - Dany Heatley
By the third period, his East teammates were feeding him the puck constantly in an attempt to get Heatley an all-star record-breaking fifth goal. As it was, he ended up equalling the mark held by Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Vince Damphousse and Mike Gartner.
Heatley also became the youngest player to score four goals in an all-star game. His age at the time: 22 years, 12 days, or one day younger than Gretzky.
Over the years, Heatley has also come to enjoy the skills competition that is usually held on the Saturday night before the game. He is scheduled to take part in the accuracy shooting contest as well as the elimination shootout this year.
"It's just fun to see some of the skills the guys around the league have and some of the cool things they can do with the puck," he said.
This year's game is set for a 6 p.m. start Sunday. CBC and NBC have the television coverage. CBC will also broadcast the Honda SuperSkills competition Saturday at 7 p.m.Click here for NHL.com's complete All-Star game coverage.