It happened so quietly that nobody really noticed outside of the most ardent hockey observers. Dany Heatley, who once had back-to-back 50-goal seasons, cleared waivers with the Anaheim Ducks and was sent down to their AHL affiliate in Norfolk.
The Ducks quietly signed Heatley to a one-year deal worth a paltry $1 million in the off-season, but nothing clicked. He was held scoreless in six games and is a minus-3. Injuries have once again been the order of the day, with Heatley struggling physically. A groin problem required surgery and things just snowballed from there.
Heatley is 34-years-old and at one point was considered a top-tier offensive talent. Looking at his numbers, that impression is far from unfounded. In his debut season with the Atlanta Thrashers, he popped in 26 goals in 82 games and recorded 67 points overall. That set a franchise record for most points by a rookie.
Heatley went on to score 41 goals the following season and then it happened. In September of 2003, he crashed his Ferrari with Atlanta teammate Dan Snyder as his passenger. Snyder would die of his injuries and Heatley was charged with vehicular homicide. He pleaded guilty and received three years probation.
Sure, he’d go on to score an awful lot for the Ottawa Senators. Upon his arrival in the nation’s capital, Heatley enjoyed his back-to-back 50-goal seasons and set more franchise records. But after reaching that plateau, things began to topple. In June of 2009, he requested a trade from the Senators after being just a year into a six-year extension. This didn’t exactly endear the already-controversial player to fans.
The Senators struggled to move Heatley and his massive contract, especially in light of his declining digits, and that’s when the Edmonton Oilers came into view. The Senators had a deal with the Oilers in place, but Heatley refused to waive his no-trade clause.
Eventually, Heatley was traded to the San Jose Sharks but the damage was done on multiple levels and he never recovered. He made $8 million in his first year with San Jose and scored 39 goals. The following season, he had 26 goals and then was traded to the Minnesota Wild. He dislocated his shoulder in a collision with Marc-Edouard Vlasic and had season-ending surgery.
Following that, rumours have been consistent about his eventual retirement and/or move to Europe. His numbers have dipped with regularity and this latest dive is just the latest in a long string of disappointments. Dany Heatley quite possibly never exacted his potential as a hockey player and his off-ice proclivities left a sour taste in the mouths of many.
Now he finds himself shopped by the Ducks to any takers and hanging around the AHL in an effort to look NHL-ready. How the mighty have fallen.