If you ask any casual hockey fan what their favorite hockey movie is of all time, they’ll more than likely bring up The Mighty Ducks. The Mighty Ducks trilogy documents lawyer-turned-hockey coach Gordon Bombay (Emilio Estevez) as he leads a rag-tag team of Pee-Wees to the Minnesota Pee-Wee championship title, then the Junior Goodwill Games gold against Iceland and finally hands them off to the “real world” of high school. Along the way, the lovable and klutzy captain Charlie “Spazway” Conway (Joshua Jackson) shows that what he lacks in talent and skill, he makes up in true team leadership.
The Minnesota Wild have their own Spazway–his name is Dany Heatley. A former two-time 50-goal scorer, Heatley has yet to get back to form in his time with Minnesota. Over parts of three seasons with the Wild, “Heater” has scored 35 goals and 40 assists for just 75 points in 126 games. Not exactly what fans were expecting when it was announced Martin Havlat had been sent to San Jose for–at the time–one of the NHL’s best snipers.
Dany came into camp this September having lost some weight and looking lean and mean to several Twin Cities-based writers. Teammates were raving and singing his praises. Eight games into the season, Heatley has scored exactly zero goals and just one assist for one point, a negative-1 rating and 14 shots. Worst of all, it’s not like he’s not getting chances. He seems to whiff on beautiful dish after beautiful dish from line mates Mikael Granlund and Jason Pominville. And he’s turning the puck over–a lot. Last night was nothing short of painful watching him cough up the puck time after time to Tampa’s dangerous offense.
There’s a big difference between Mr. Conway and Mr. Heatley, though. That’s leadership. Nothing about Heatley’s play suggests anything hinting towards leadership. He’s not a leader on the ice anymore–he’s quickly becoming a liability. Something has to be done, and soon. Either Heatley needs to adapt to what his body will allow him to do, or it’s time for the Wild brass to look for a better option.
Follow Dakota Case at Twitter.com/Dakota_case