Evan Grossman | NHL.com Staff Writer
Jan 22, 2007, 12:00 PM EST
If Dany Heatley’s second All-Star performance is anything like his first cameo, hockey fans are in for a special treat.
Heatley became the first player in the game’s history to bury four-consecutive goals in his only other All-Star appearance and finished the 2003 Game in Florida with a five points. He was 22-years-old for his first All-Star Game when the West beat his Eastern squad 6-5 in an eventual shootout. Heatley was named the MVP of that game and scored the Eastern Conference’s lone goal in the shootout.
“Any time you get chosen for that it’s great,” Heatley told NHL.com before being selected to this year’s All-Star roster. “I’ve been chosen for that once before and it’s a fun weekend. It’ll be an honor to go.”
This will be his second trip, and he’ll be representing a new team this time around. Heatley played for Atlanta when he made his first ASG cameo and he returns to the game as an Ottawa Senator this time. He was traded for Marian Hossa during the summer of 2005 and in an ironic turn of events, the two will both dress for the Eastern Conference Wednesday night in Dallas.
“I used to like watching the skills when I was younger,” Heatley said. “The game itself is the most fun. I had a lot of a fun a few years ago being with all the other guys. That’s what’s most fun for me.”
One guy who he’ll be rubbing elbow pads with in the dressing room is the player he was traded for. Hossa is currently Atlanta’s leading scorer, while Heatley owns that title in Ottawa with 28 goals and 35 assists through the season’s first 49 games. The two were only a point apart in the overall NHL scoring ledger with Heatley’s 63 one better than Hossa’s 62 in the same number of games.
While both Heatley and Hossa have posted impressive numbers, they are both critical to their respective teams’ success. Heatley’s importance has actually become greater in the weeks leading up to the All-Star Game as the Senators have been without playmaking center Jason Spezza, nursing a left knee injury since late December.
In the first 13 games Ottawa played without their No. 1 center, Heatley scored eight goals and 32 points, a stretch during which he was notified of his All-Star status.
“The way he’s playing, without a doubt, I can’t imagine there are very many forwards that are doing more than him,” Ottawa head coach Bryan Murray said. “So if you’re looking at the last 10-20 games our team played, and even before that, Dany was a prime player for us and he’s just gotten better.”
While Hossa has made Atlanta a better team, Heatley has had the same effect in Ottawa. It’s been a bit of an up-and-down season for the Sens, as is the case with many teams around the league, but last year Heatley scored 103 points in Ottawa and had them at or near the top of the Eastern Conference for much of the 2005-06 season. The Senators were considered the class of the conference, but they were playing at a pace that seemed impossible to continue into the playoffs.
This season is a much different story for the Senators, who have shown flashes of brilliance and spots of weakness most of the season.