Ray Ratto

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

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

July 3, 2011

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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.

Phrase that Matt Joyce left out of his apology is key to talking the talk

Phrase that Matt Joyce left out of his apology is key to talking the talk

Matt Joyce said the word, he did the apology, he’ll do the time, and then we’ll see if he’ll get the forgiveness he asks.
 
Joyce’s two-game suspension by Major League Baseball for using a gay slur at a fan during Friday’s Athletics-Angels game in Anaheim is well within industry norms (though it might have been more tactically impressive if the club itself had issued the suspension), and his apology did not deflect blame or contain the always-insincere caveat “if I offended anyone.” He did offend people and he knew it, so he didn’t couch it in the phraseology of “I don’t think what I said was improper, but I’ll do the perp walk just to get this over with.”
 
He even offered to do work with PFLAG, the support group that supports the LGBTQ community, thereby putting his time (which is more meaningful than money) where his mouth was.
 
In other words, he seems to have taken his transgression properly to heart, which is all you can really hope for, and now we’ll see if he is granted the absolution he seeks.
 
You see, we’re a funny old country in that we talk forgiveness all the time but grant it only sparingly, and only after a full mental vetting of important things like “Do we like this guy?” and “Is he playing for my favorite team?” and “Do I feel like letting him up at all?”
 
In other words, forgiveness is very conditional indeed.
 
Joyce said what he said, but his apology seemed to be given freely and unreservedly rather than crafted to meet a minimal standard of corporate knee-taking/arse-covering. If he follows through on his offer to do face-to-face work with PFLAG or an associated group and absorbs the lesson of not using other people as a weapon for his own frustration, then he ought to be acknowledged for doing so. That’s what forgiveness is.
 
But if the principle you adhere to is “once guilty, forever doomed,” then you’ve succeeded at giving in to the mode of the day, which is jumping to a conclusion and never jumping back because it’s just easier and more convenient to do so.
 
It’s up to him. But it’s also up to you.

Promotion and relegation would be a great idea in all sports

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Promotion and relegation would be a great idea in all sports

There is no inherent reason why you should care about Miami FC or Kingston Stockade FC, two lower level professional soccer leagues in the lower right quadrant of the nation.

But when they joined together to go to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the international governing body for any sport not run by Americans for Americans, to demand that all American teams submit to the concept of promotion and relegation, from MLS to, presumably, your kid’s under-8 team, they became interesting.

And the best part about soccer, except for Neymar being worth twice as much as all other humans in the history of the sport, is promotion and relegation.

In fact, it would be a great idea in all sports – although the idea of the Giants and A’s in the Pacific Coast League might scare the bejeezus out of Larry Baer and John Fisher.

Now we are not optimistic that the CAS will see this Kingston and Miami’s way. Americans like their sports top-heavy, where only a few megaclubs get most of the money and attention while the rest sort of muddle along, safe but unremarkable. And to be frank, promotion and relegation is most a fun media construct for making fun of bad teams – say, like the A’s and Giants.

But we can agree, I think, that having Jed York pay Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch to keep his football team out of the Canadian Football League, or better still, the Mountain West Conference, would add to healthy dose of spice to what promises otherwise to be a pretty humdrum year.

And promotion/relegation would certainly reduce all that troublesome tanking in the NBA people endlessly whinge about.

So here’s to Kingston Stockade and Miami FC. Your cause is just. Persevere. After all, in this rancid period for American sporting culture, someone's got to stand for the quixotic yet indisputably correct thing.

And when it fails, and it probably will, just know you sleep with the angels -- if that’s what passes for fun at your house.