Just when you thought that the wildest (and longest) off-season in the history of the National Hockey League couldn't get any wilder, Ottawa and Atlanta pulled off the kind of trade that has tongues wagging all over the hockey world. Marion Hossa, who it could be argued has been one of the best forwards in the league over the past 2 or 3 years, was dealt by the Senators to the Thrashers for another talented scorer, Dany Heatley.
On the surface it looks like a trade that could work out well for both teams. Hossa is a little older than Heatley but at this point is the better player. Heatley can dangle with the best of them when he's healthy and still has plenty of upside, provided he can play the way he did before the car accident that took the life of his teammate Dan Snyder several years ago. And it's that horrible accident and it's aftermath that caused Heatley to ask out of A-town.
I'm not suggesting that Heatley wants to forget about what happened to his friend that fateful night, but there's no question that he hasn't been the same hockey player since the crash. Physically he's fine. The problem seems to be a mental one. Whether it was the constant reminders all around Atlanta of the tragedy or the memories that were undoubtedly resurrected virtually any time he took to the streets in his car, Heatley needed a change of scenery.
While the Senators were pretty much forced to deal Hossa due to financial reasons, they are taking a gamble that Dany Heatley will get his head straight and his game straight playing in the country he grew up in and in a city where the Senators just may have what it takes this year to get to the Stanley Cup Finals.
There will be a lot more pressure on Heatley in hockey crazy Ottawa, but chances are it will be all about hockey pressure and not other issues. Whether or not you feel that he paid a stiff enough penalty when his recklessness caused Snyder to lose his life, Dany Heatley has the right to move on with his life and his career, and thanks to the willingness of the Thrashers to grant his trade request, he has a much better chance now to honor Dan Snyder and his family by becoming the dominant player and champion that many people believe he can be.