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.

Does St. Louis' suit against NFL mean hope for the City of Oakland?

Does St. Louis' suit against NFL mean hope for the City of Oakland?

You thought you were done worrying about the Raiders. You thought the votes were in, the moving vans booked for three years down the road, and all gnashing and sharpening of teeth was over. You thought you were free.

Then those buttinsky-come-latelies from St. Louis decided to rear their litigious heads, and now you find yourselves slipping back into that desperate-hope world from which no one escapes.

It seems the city and its regional sports authority has decided to sue the National Football League and its 32 semi-independent duchies over the relocation of the Rams 15 months ago because, and you’ll like this one, the league allegedly did not follow its own relocation rules when it moved the team.

As you know, there is no such thing as a rule if everyone governed by the rule decided unanimously to ignore the rule. This doctrine falls under the general heading of, “We’re billionaires, try and stop us.”

But all lawsuits have a common denominator, and that is that there is money at the end of the rainbow. St. Louis is claiming it is going to miss out on approximately $100 million in net proceeds (read: cash) and has decided that the NFL and especially their good pal Stan Kroenke is going to have to pay for permission to do what they have already done -- specifically, leave.

Because the suit was filed in St. Louis, the benefits of home field advantage apply, and the league is likely to have to reinflate their lawyers for some exciting new billable hours.

As to whether it turns into a windfall for the jilted Missourians, well, as someone who has known lawyers, I would list them as prohibitive underdogs. But there is nuisance value here, which brings us to Oakland.

The city and county, as we know, did not put its best shoe forward in trying to lure the Raiders into staying or the other 31 owners into rejecting the team’s pleas for geographical relief. By that, we mean that the city and county did not fall all over itself to meet the league’s typically extortionate demands.

But they did play angry enough to start snipping about the 2019 part of the Raiders’ 3-More-Coliseum-Years plan, and they are threatening to sue over about $80K in unpaid parking fees, so filing their own breach-of-rules lawsuit might be a possibility.

Because, hey, what’s the point of sounding like a nuisance if you can’t actually become one?

By now, it is clear that everyone in SuitWorld got what it needed out of the Raiders’ move. The city and county could concentrate on guiding the A’s into activity on their own new stadium. The team could go where Mark Davis has been agitating for it to go for at least three years – somewhere else. The state of Nevada could find a place for that $750 million that was burning a hole in its casino vault. And the league went to a market that it, at first reluctantly and then enthusiastically, decided should be its own.

The fans? Oh, please. Who cares about them? To the NFL, and to all corporations in all walks of business, folks are just walking wallets.

But for some cash? Well, climb on board, suckers. The gravy train is pulling out on Track 3.

Nobody is fool enough to think the Raiders would be forced to return. Hell, even St. Louis isn’t asking for the Rams back. They just want to get paid for the money they probably banked on in the good old days before Stan Kroenke decided to head west.

And that would doubtless be Oakland’s stance as well if. Now the circumstances are slightly different, in that St. Louis worked harder to keep the Rams than Oakland did to keep the Raiders. St. Louis scared up $350 million toward new digs for the Rams, well short of what Kroenke would have accepted, while Oakland said it could get its hands on some infrastructure money and no more.

But Mayor Libby Schaaf complained in her relocation post mortem that the league didn’t follow its own guidelines (yay correlation as causation!), maybe with an eye toward throwing a few lawyers into the fire to see how long it would burn.

There is not yet any indication that the city and county are going that route (and the silence may simply mean that they are sick of the Raiders’ saga as everyone else seems to be), but if they do, well, don’t freak out that the team might be forced to return.

Except, of course, in that place where migraines start. Dragging this back up is a bit like the phantom pain amputees feel -- but hey, people will do a lot for a bit of court-ordered cash. Anyone who has ever watched Judge Judy will understand.

A sports-related pie-fixing scandal? Hell never felt so fun

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AP

A sports-related pie-fixing scandal? Hell never felt so fun

I’m liking this 2017 so far. Then again, after 2016, nearly any year would be an improvement.

Just this last weekend we got a flat-earth scandal that turned into a mock-up about media self-importance and fake news (yay Kyrie Irving and his impish sense of satire!).

We got the overblown Russell-Hates-Kevin narrative, and the faux Russell-Secretly-Loves-Kevin counternarrative, all because we are stunningly attracted to meaningless and utterly contrived drama (yay our ability to B.S. ourselves!).

We got the NBA All-Star Game ripped for having no defense even though last year’s game was, if anything, worse (yay short attention span!).

We got the Boogie Cousins trade and the national revulsion of all the thought processes the Sacramento Kings put into this perpetually rolling disaster (yay making Boogie and Vivek Ranadive household names!).

And now we got the Great Sutton United Pie-Fixing Scandal. Yeah, pie-fixing. Hell never felt so fun.

So here’s the deal. Sutton United, a very small fry in English soccer, got to the fifth round of the FA Cup, a competition in which all the clubs in England are commingled and play each other until one team remains. The big clubs almost always win, so any time a small club goes deep, it’s a big deal.

Anyway, Sutton went deeper in the competition than nearly anyone in the last century, a charming development given that it is such a small club that it had a stadium caretaker, goalie coach and backup goalie all in one massive fellow, a 46-year-old guy named Wayne Shaw. Shaw became the globular embodiment of the entire Sutton Experience, a jolly lark for everyone involved and especially when he ate a pie on the bench in the final minutes of Sutton’s Cup-exiting loss to Arsenal.

And now he’s been eased into resigning his jobs with the club, because – and this is so very British – there were betting shops taking action on whether he would in fact eat a pie on the bench, and he either did or did not tip off his pals that he was going to chow down on television.

He did eat the pie. His pals collected on their bets. The sport’s governing body opened an investigation into market manipulation by gambling – which is hilarious given that no fewer than 10 gambling establishments have advertising deals with English soccer clubs. Shaw was invited to quit to kill the story, and he took the hint.

Hey, dreams die all the time. But it’s still pie-fixing. Let that rattle around your head for a minute. Pie-fixing. Not match-fixing. Not point-shaving. Pie-fixing.

Now how can you not love this year?

Sure, it sucks for Shaw, but it serves as a series of cautionary tales for athletes around the world.

* Gambling is everywhere, and every time you inch toward it, you dance on the third rail.

* If you want to help your friends, give them cash.

* This is a horribly delicious way to lose your gig.

* And finally, fun in the 21st century isn’t ever truly fun because someone in a suit and a snugly-placed stick is going to make sure you pay full retail for that fun.

But it is nice to know that something that has never happened before is now part of our year. Pie-fixing is a thing now, as silly in its way as Irving’s flat-earth narrative was. And as we steer away from normal games as being too run-of-the-mill-fuddy-duddy entertainment, we have replaced them with sideshows.

Or do you forget how many people complained Saturday and Sunday that the dunk contest wasn’t interesting enough? How stupid is that?

Lots. Lots of stupid. But against pie-tin-shaped planets and pies turned into betting coups, how can it possibly compare?

We chase a lot of idiotic narratives in our sporting lives. The great What Will The Patriots Do To Roger Goodell story died like the old dog it was. We still try to flog Warriors-Thunder as a rivalry in search of better TV ratings when all the obvious evidence is that it is no such thing unless you think a couple that broke up nine months ago is still a solid story. We have Bachelor fantasy leagues, for God’s sake.

This would leave most normal folks in despair, thus matching their everyday experiences, but yin meets yang, and every time it looks like we are all barrel-rolling into the sun, we get Irving, and then we get Wayne Shaw.

In short, 2017 is going to be fun of grand surprises for us all. I look forward to the day President Trump tries to fete the Patriots and only gets to Skype with Bob Kraft and the equipment guys who midwifed DeflateGate, and Mark Davis in Las Vegas, just to see if he can get a P.F. Chang’s into the Bellagio.

Why not? This is sport’s year-long tribute to sketch comedy, and evidently everyone is signing on enthusiastically to replace lessons of morality and honor and equality and dignity and sportsmanship with slackened jaws and belly laughs.

So yay sports! Or as it is clearly becoming, A Night At The Improv.