Ratto: Heatley was No. 1 gamble for Sharks' Wilson


Ratto: Heatley was No. 1 gamble for Sharks' Wilson

July 3, 2011


Follow @RattoCSNRay Ratto

Dany Heatley was supposed to be utterly immovable, as well as occasionally immobile. He was the Sharks issue, for good and bad, for years and years to come.And now, he is a member of the Minnesota Wild, just like Devin Setoguchi, and the sound you hear is people dragging their jaws at the gravel line in shock.In fact, his lack of trade-ability wasnt quite ironclad -- There was a window in his contract that allowed this move to be made, general manager Doug Wilson said. It had just opened. It was included in his deal from Ottawa.

RELATED:Heatleycareer stats splitsgame logs

But it was hard for mere laymen to imagine a team that saw Heatley in 2010-11 and would want him, which only goes to show that where theres a window, theres a way.
And the window was actually created by neither Heatley nor Havlat, but by Setoguchi.When we did the (Brent) Burns deal, we got the top-line defenseman we were looking for, but we lost some of the speed we need in our top-six forwards, Wilson said. We could move Joe Pavelski into our top six, which is where he belongs anyway, and we were able to fill his spot when he signed (Michal) Handzus, but we still didnt have the speed guy we needed.Wilson didnt say whether he initiated the Havlat conversation with Minnesota general manager Chuck Fletcher, or whether Fletcher initiated the Heatley conversation with Wilson.
He didnt even say when it began. Hes a bit of an iron-pants that way.But Havlat said he was presented with the deal early Sunday to yea or nay, and Heatley had submitted his no-gos dutifully on July 1. Havlat said yes, Heatley didnt need to be asked, and the deal was dealt.REWIND: Sharks get their top-class defenseman in BurnsHeatleys footprint in San Jose could have and maybe should have been deeper. He was Wilsons biggest gamble ever -- a player who hated where he was (Ottawa), didnt want to go to a place that wanted him (Edmonton), and ended up in another (San Jose) that needed another sniper to replace the fallen Jonathan Cheechoo and the never-quite-was Milan Michalek.It was a swing for the fences that never reached the warning track. Heatley became less and less vital as time went on, the Sharks improved around him without putting him or them any closer to a Stanley Cup than he was in 2007 with the Senators.It was, in short, a deal for a right now that never came and still hasnt arrived. It is supposed to be closer with the additions of Burns, Handzus and Jim Vandermeer, the promotion of Pavelski back to his preferred place in the line of succession, and now Havlat. But weve thought that before, and were not even sure that Wilson is done changing the guard yet.San Jose has 20 players signed and 6,192,500 in cap space still to play with now that Havlat has given them 2.5M in extra room.RELATED: Havlat career stats splits game logs
But Havlat will always be known here not as the cap room pixie or as the speedy winger, but as the guy who got Heatley moved when it looked like he couldnt be shifted. At 31, he has his own pedigree -- in Ottawa while the Senators went from bad to good and then sent to Chicago before the Sens reached the Cup final, in Chicago for two years but not the one in which the Blackhawks won the title. He has been in the right stations but standing at the wrong track.In addition, he has more years and money left on his contract than Heatley.
Havlat is signed through 2015, with salaries of 5 million, 5 million, 5 million and 6 million. Heatley is Minnesotas for three more years at 8M, 6M and 5M. The difference was that Heatleys cap number per year was 7.5M, while Havlats is only 5M per year. Hence the cap benefit to San Jose. Minnesota was barely over the cap floor of 48M before the Heatley trade, so that may have forced Fletcher's hand as well.In other words, two enormous salaries crossing as ships in the night, and new surroundings that may or may not work better than the ones they inhabited.PHT: Another Wild trade
Heatley had one interesting but vaguely unsatisfying season and one profoundly frustrating one in San Jose. Havlat has just arrived in his fourth city in six years, and is seven years since his high-water mark as a goal-scorer. He was a mild disappointment in Minnesota, where the Wild has been traditionally below average offensively, and has been in the postseason only once.That is likely to change, but making the playoffs will be a bigger deal for him than for his new mates. He will be asked to be part of a greater whole, and a whole that needs to be greater.In the meantime, the Heatley Era is over, almost before it began. The lesson, as Michael Corleone once told us all: Nothing is impossible.Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com.

Internet immediately goes to DefCon1 on Chip Kelly-to-Cal


Internet immediately goes to DefCon1 on Chip Kelly-to-Cal

In what can be considered your standard bolt out of the blue, California head football coach Sonny Dykes has reportedly been fired.

In what can be considered your standard spur-of-the-Internet-moment-connect-the-dots inspiration, the Internet went immediately to DefCon1 on Chip Kelly-to-Cal rumors.

The logic, of course, is impeccable. Dykes never really snapped the Cal program around, taking a bad program and making it, well, mediocre, and he has spent much of the past two years aggressively seeking out other jobs, so one can assume there was at least some trouble in paradise, even if you want to make the case that Cal football and paradise are somehow connected.

And Kelly just got canned by the 49ers as part of Jed York’s latest I-will-not-be-made-to-look-ridiculous twitch, so he could sign a properly modest contract at Berkeley and still get his full $6 million with the offset from the three years left on his Jed deal.

So it makes perfect sense . . . which is why it should be judged with considerable skepticism.

For one, Kelly can almost surely do better in the college job diaspora. Cal is a big name with modest ambitions due in part to constant budget constraints, and there are better jobs out there even if he sits for a year.

For two, Cal and Kelly are an odd fit, given the persistent tensions between academia and athletica at Berkeley.

For three, the job comes with massive roadblocks, including Stanford, USC, Washington and (potentially) a resuscitation of the Oregon he left behind. Success will not come easy, if it does at all.

For four, Cal just finished four years of gimmick offense and overburdened defense, and Kelly would provide a more successful version of the same.

And for five, this is too easy, too simple, too convenient. Something about this scenario must be wrong somewhere. When people hit the Internet with photoshopped Kelly-in-Cal-costumes within minutes of the Dykes announcement, you know this is too obvious to actually come to fruition.

Why? Because we don’t live that well, that’s why.

The beauty of a triumphant Kelly at Cal glowering down at the charred ruin in Santa Clara seems more appealing than it actually is, because try as they might, Cal fans will never be backing the more popular horse here, and Kelly won’t win that battle unless he takes Cal to the Rose Bowl while the 49ers are still grappling over draft positions.

In that way, reality sucks. The idea that Jed York could be mocked in collegial absentia by his two biggest coaching hires is delicious but almost surely illusory.

But until we get more on why Dykes got canned 43 days after the team’s last game – recruiting, academic issues, legal issues, photocopier problems from him sending his resume out so often – all we have is the Chip Kelly rumor-ette to keep us intrigued.

Okay, to keep us amused.

Okay, to keep us from falling over in a coma. Cal should matter more than it does, but it’s been 13 years since the Holiday Bowl zenith of the Jeff Tedford Era, and 25 since Bruce Snyder took the Ursines to the Citrus Bowl. The evidence since 1990 is of a team with bigger dreams than means that is slightly below .500 (160-164). Sonny Dykes leaving means one more coach who didn’t make an impact unless his departure leads to either reassessment of the program’s standards, internal or external sanctions . . .

. . . or what the hell, Chip Kelly. Let’s face it – in these dismal days for wacked-out rumormongering, this is pretty intoxicating stuff.

Warriors are most geographically vague team in history of American sports


Warriors are most geographically vague team in history of American sports

The Philadelphia/San Francisco/Golden State Warriors have always had a casual attitude about their home court, even by the once-flexible standards of the National Basketball Association.

Thus, it should be only slightly amusing but not actually surprising that Warriors chief arenologist Rick Welts is now waffling a bit (courtesy Comrade Poole) on whether the team will change its name to San Francisco Warriors when it moves across the pond in 2019-20, or retain its current geographic association with Narnia.

I mean Golden State. I often confuse utterly fictional locales – when I can be bothered to give a toss either way.

But the Warriors, whether they play in Oakland, San Francisco, Pier 30, Pier 32, Westeros, Hobbiton, the Duchy of Grand Fenwick, Curryvania, the Klingon Empire, the Death Star or Planet Nine, are relocating, and once they break the seal on the earth in 12 days, Welts and his fellow elves will almost surely play the team’s future name as a mildly tedious cliffhanger.

Hey, fun is where you find it.

The matter of the team’s relocation will be a sore subject among lifelong East Bay residents, who have put up with the Warriors for 45 years in various stages of development, including the current “We Almost Never Lose” stage. They regard the Warriors’ transplantation to San Francisco to be an unspeakable crime given the high level of fan allegiance afforded them in Oakland.

And yes, they regard Oakland and San Francisco as very real places, as opposed to Golden State, Freedonia, Vulgaria or the Nexus of All Realities.

It is not yet fully known what San Franciscans think of this development, but that’s the nature of the gamble here. They may embrace the Warriors as the new toy in town and then lose interest, and frankly, neither Welts nor anyone else knows the answer to that.

Either way, their die is cast, and Joe Lacob and Peter Guber are now future former Oakland fixtures. Yes, they are quite fond of the exciting new real estate values and their exciting new unobstructed view of the bay, but it has long been assumed that the move would also entail changing the name back to “San Francisco” for the snob appeal.

Now Welts, who has overseen both arena projects (including the one at Piers 30 and 32 which ended up with the piers beating the Warriors in a rout), tells Comrade Poole that the San Francisco Warriors might not end up as the San Francisco Warriors after all.

“Four years ago, I think the conventional wisdom in our building here in Oakland was that yes, we should attach a city name to the team, then it becomes a more global franchise,” Welts marketing-gobbledy-gooked. “There was a lot of head-scratching four years ago about where the Golden State Warriors even played, in other parts of the world. What’s happened with the team over the course of the ensuing years, until today, has made the Warriors if not the preeminent, at least among the three best-known NBA franchises around the world. And everybody who didn’t know where the Golden State Warriors were four years ago, if you’re a fan today, anywhere in the world, you know where the Golden State Warriors are.”

In Oakland.

Now, the mic drop.

“The team’s success has caused us to really rethink whether or not that’s something we should or want to do,” he added. “I guess it’s fair to say there’s been no final decision made. But if you were a betting man, I think you would probably want to wager that the name might remain the same.”

Of course. Why not stay fictional when specificity might move fewer hoodies?

Then again, this is a team that in its 70 years has played home games in Philadelphia (the Arena, the Civic Center, Lincoln High School and Convention Hall), Hershey and Bethlehem PA, Atlantic City, Trenton, Collingswood and Camden NJ, and Saratoga Springs NY . . .

(a moment’s rest here to catch our breaths)

. . . and then after moving west in 1962, the Cow Palace, San Francisco Civic Auditorium and USF’s Memorial Gym, the Oakland Auditorium, San Jose Civic Auditorium, San Jose Arena, Richmond Auditorium, then Sacramento, Bakersfield, Fresno, San Diego, Eugene, Seattle, Phoenix and Salt Lake City.

In fact, and you can swindle the gullible at your neighborhood tavern with this one, the Warriors’ first game in San Francisco occurred almost three years before the team left Philadelphia. The Warriors played the visitors to the Minneapolis Lakers, who moved to Los Angeles a year later and had already played a regular season game at the Cow Palace earlier in the year, so this game, January 31, 1960, could have been considered a civic scouting trip for both teams as they sought new homes.

In other words, the Warriors are almost surely the most geographically vague team in the history of North American sports. Moreover, they are about to become the first team in sports history to go home for the third time under three different city names – Philadelphia, San Francisco and Krypton, or whatever the hell they want to call themselves this time.