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Heatley fails to come clean

Maybe Dany Heatley didn't get the memo.

Or maybe he just doesn't get it.

With Team Canada's Olympic orientation camp looming, general manager Steve Yzerman made it clear this week that the tight-lipped winger needed to break his two-month silence. It was time to come clean regarding his demand to be traded by the Ottawa Senators to pretty much any team but the Edmonton Oilers, the only other club that appears to want him. And Heatley needed to do it before camp convenes on Monday.

"It has to be addressed," Yzerman said of the ongoing furor. "Obviously, it will be a hot topic for one day. Everybody get it out of the way. Everybody ask the questions that need to be asked. Dany, answer those questions. And everybody move on."

Seemed like a pretty straightforward set of instructions from a no-nonsense leader who doesn't need a personal agenda disrupting a critical training period for the most closely scrutinized team in hockey.

So Heatley gamely agreed to meet the press on Friday, three days before the start of camp. Plenty of time to finally reveal his side of the summer's second-most poisonous soap opera -- after the one in Phoenix -- and let the dust settle before the blades of Canada's Olympic hopefuls hit the ice on Monday in Calgary.

Problem was, when the questions came, Dany didn't answer them. Sure, there were words coming out of his mouth, but no specifics as to why he doesn't want to play in Edmonton or in Ottawa, where he feels his diminished role under new coach Cory Clouston is hardly befitting a player of his talent and versatility. And certainly there was none of the honesty needed to defuse the tensions in two cities frustrated by yet another superstar player slapping them in the face.

Heatley's agent, Stacey McAlpine, suggested prior to the teleconference that would be the case. Still, it was hard to swallow the spin-doctored hoodoo that was presented. If Heatley and his handlers hoped that this media event would enhance his credibility, they needn't have bothered. If anything, it simply reinforced the impression of Heatley as disingenuous at best, and selfish at worst.

And if fans in Edmonton and Ottawa were looking for some kind of apology, it wasn't forthcoming. All the talk about wanting "options" to consider before he could properly weigh the benefits of going to the Oilers didn't placate anyone. He could at least have earned some respect by saying that it'd be a cold day in March before he'd go to Edmonton.

Among the well-rehearsed responses Heatley offered (whether they actually addressed the question at hand or not):

"I didn't make [the trade request] public, neither did my representatives. It's very unfortunate that it did go public."

"It's definitely not Cory solely..."

"I love playing for Canada."

"This has nothing to do with Edmonton personally. Edmonton is a great hockey city."

"I love the fans in Ottawa. I think it's a great city...that's why I signed long term there."

"The reason I didn't speak until now is that the process needs to take place. In fairness to Ottawa and the other teams involved, I didn't want to make it more of a circus."

"I have a contract. If I'm still a Senator at training camp time, I'll be ready to go and play to the best of my ability."

"I think anyone who ever has played with me knows I'm a team guy."

No doubt that's exactly how the Senators think of him right now. Dany Heatley: Team Guy.

There was another moment -- and it sure felt like it was scripted as well -- when McAlpine called for an end to the conference only to be waved off by his client who offered to answer two more questions. Of course, Heatley deked around them -- including one about relinquishing the A that he was awarded just last season -- more effectively than he would a Maple Leafs defender.

While the issue of Heatley's future employer remains to be decided -- and you wonder who is telling him that there are several teams interested in his services -- his involvement with Team Canada simmers on the front burner.

At this point, you have to wonder what Yzerman thinks.

Yzerman came out in defense of Heatley on Thursday, saying he belonged at Team Canada's camp. And in terms of pure skill, Yzerman's absolutely right. Despite the winger's no-show performance in Turin three years ago, he remains one of the game's most consistent snipers and is Canada's all-time leading goal-scorer in international competition. He's also demonstrated some real chemistry with Ryan Getzlaf and Rick Nash -- a pair of locks to make the club -- at previous World Championships. At one time, the thought of those three big bodies back together in Vancouver had to put a smile on Stevie Y's face.

But now the GM has to be wondering if maybe he needed to address this personally with Heatley instead of relying on Hockey Canada's Bob Nicholson and the media to relay the message. Heatley had a chance to ensure that he wouldn't be a distraction at camp and he failed. A hot topic for one day? Instead of a minor distraction, he guaranteed he'll remain front and center with what may have been his only heartfelt answer of the day.

"When I signed in Ottawa two years ago," Heatley said, "I thought it was to be integral part of team. Over the last two years and more recently over the past year, I feel my role was diminished. This past season it diminished a lot more. The diminished role is the biggest thing. I'm a player who can play in a lot of situations. I don't feel I was given that role on the team."

Is that really what Yzerman needed to hear?

You want to play for Team Canada, Dany? The acceptance of a diminished role comes with the sweater. It's what every player has to embrace, from Martin Brodeur to Scott Niedermayer to Sidney Crosby on down. Those who can't get with the program are far too easily replaced. You think Eric Staal wouldn't fit in nicely with Nash and Getzlaf? Or Simon Gagne?

Heatley may not have options, but Canada certainly does.

Would the Canadians be a more formidable side in Vancouver with Heatley in the lineup? They sure would...but do they need him right now? Probably not. It might be better for all concerned if he returned to his Fortress of Solitude until this situation is resolved.

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