Monday, April 10, 2006


Stand back

I don't like to take up space on this site with high & mighty moralizing, or with criticizing the print media, but today's the day, because the Ottawa branch of the Professional Hockey Writers Association has nominated Dany Heatley for the Masterton Trophy, and that is bloody outrageous.
The trophy was presented by the NHL Writers' Association in 1968 to commemorate the late William Masterton, a player for the Minnesota North Stars, who exhibited, to a high degree, the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. Masterton died on Jan. 15, 1968, after an injury sustained during a hockey game.

I don't wish bad things for Dany Heatley. You have to move on from your mistakes in life, and he's done things exactly the way I would have. He had his interests represented vigorously in the legal system. He got himself moved into a situation that he thought (correctly, as it turns out) would be better for his career and his life.

But he hurt himself driving a car at an insane speed, and killed his friend in the process. I don't care how well he dealt with things afterwards: you don't get a damn trophy for that.

Dany has been extremely fortunate that Dan Snyder's family forgave him for their loss. But that gesture by Snyder's parents does not mean Heatley is a victim. For that matter, Snyder's parents do not have the unambiguous right to speak for him now that he's gone. Don't you think that Dan Snyder has a cousin, or an old friend, who put his fist through a wall this morning when he heard that Heatley has been nominated for a trophy? For his perserverance?

Those who defend or protect Heatley have been very successful promoting the idea that the fatal car accident was just one of those terrible things that occasionally happen when youth, money, and two good friends are involved. I wish more people would consider the possibility that, hey, maybe Dan Snyder was sitting there, rigid and terrified, begging Heatley to slow down.

Dany Heatley is not a victim. All his problems were of his own making, and his injuries were self-inflicted. He's been forgiven more than adequately. Give him a trophy? Come on now.


Do you think Big Bert will get it for Vancouver?

Well said, Matt. And Sac's comment made me burst out laughing. I am actually surprised Cosh hasn't convinced someone out there to do it for him.

I think Anson Carter is our nominee.

killing teammate = exhibiting a high degree of sportsmanship?

Sports writers are the biggest D&D fanboy nerds in the universe.

Mactavish was suspended for a year for vehicular manslaughter. Heatley got nominated for an award.

Which challenge are you most impressed that he perservered through, mc? Being traded to one of the top teams in the NHL and universally welcomed with open arms? Or being unconditionally forgiven for causing a man's death by the immediate family of that man?

I just don't see it. I see the elements you're talking about: he killed his buddy, hurt himself, and now he's playing hockey again. Like you, I'm glad he's not on Skid Row; I'm also glad he's not in jail.

But I can't abide this notion that not only is his Anguish punishment enough for his mistakes, but that he should be commended for overcoming it! No.

It is impossible to imagine Heatley having more support, help, and forgiveness than he has in this past year or two. As such, we're talking about nominating him for the Masterton for not quitting hockey and getting drunk. And on the "dedication to hockey" front, I feel safe in saying that there's no NHL player who has needed hockey more than Dany Heatley, rather than the other way around.

I repeat again, I am not trying to be an ass: I would have gone about my business in the exact same way Heatley has, to date. But my estimation of the man will multiply if he declines the nomination. He doesn't have to accept any liability, or incriminate himself: just a simple, "No thank you, it wouldn't be right."

This is kinda overboard for a Masterton nomination; it essentially means very little — especially considering he's not going to win the thing. I sort of agree with Tyler in that Heatley has persevered through something quite tramautic, regardless of its cause. There are all kinds of people who bring their own misfortune on themselves — addicts, etc. — and their rise from the ashes shouldn't be pooh-poohed because of that.

I suspect more people will agree with Matt, however.

Can you just name players or is MGMT eligible as well? Because if they are why not avoid the controversy and nominate Muckler?

I think it's simply amazing that Muck's been dead for 10 years is currently running the best team in the East.

Considering his strack record in Edmonton and especially Buffalo, I'm not at all surprised at how well Muckler is doing.

Mirtle: "There are all kinds of people who bring their own misfortune on themselves — addicts, etc. — and their rise from the ashes shouldn't be pooh-poohed because of that."

Yeah, but should it be rewarded? How is screwing up and making a comeback more worthy of recognition than having the good sense to not screw up in the first place? It's all about the story. People love a good story.

Yeah, this is probably overboard in terms of the Trophy (I've certainly never been interested in protecting its good name before today). Is there people who agree with me, though, at all? I've just about never read a cross word about Heatley (this quite literally might be the only example).

I'm trying to think of a decent way to express myself, and failing. But let's say you're telling a group of 3rd-graders The Story of Dany Heatley's Perserverance and Dedication. Wouldn't you have to choose your words pretty carefully, and probably just leave some stuff out entirely, if you wanted them to be impressed?

Homer: That Timmy's a real hero.
Lisa: How do you mean?
Homer: He fell down a well and can't get out.
Lisa: How does that make him a hero?
Homer: Well, it's more than you did.


Heatley was able to put his life back together after the accident, which is commendable but I agree with Matt I don't think it's worthy of an award.

I can't imagine what it would feel like to have taken away the life of a teammate because of reckless behavior and I think just dealing with that is punishment in itself. Heatley has recovered well and a successful career should be reward enough.

The Masterton Award, in my view, should be a feel good story. The recipient doesn't have to be a saint by any means, but they also shouldn't get the award for an incident which began by them killing someone. Just because Heatley wasn't drunk doesn't make it better. Sure it wasn't as criminal, but the consquences for the Snyder family were just as terrible.

Hey MF,

If Theo Fleury were to make a comeback -- sane and sober -- become a model citizen, score a tonne of goals, and help lead a team to first in his conference. Would that be worth of a Masterton nomination?

There is no question he would have had to overcome some serious misery (largely self-imposed) to do this.

I dunno. Just curious. could have easily ruined him, if he's the kind of guy who has any sort of a conscience.

It's official: the Masterton Trophy is now an award for courageously doing exactly what a sociopath would have done in the same circumstances.

Tyler, why is it that you can't distinguish between, "He should be forgiven and allowed to get on with his life", and, "Let's nominate him for a trophy"?

I'm not saying he should be in jail, I'm not saying he should be suspended, I'm not saying he should be booed in every arena he enters, and I'm not saying he's a sociopath (though Cosh is dead right when he notes that the words and actions of one would be identical).

I'm saying he should be ineligible for formal character recognition. I believe the Snyders were sincere when they forgave him, and wished that he would recover his life. Did they expect that if he did just that, some Ottawa sportswriters would try and pin a medal on him? I'm skeptical...

Uhhhhh, Mudcrutch, you made the point yourself that someone without a conscience wouldn't have had any particular trouble returning to the game. Not that it wouldn't otherwise be obvious.

And yeah, I've done stupid stuff on Alberta back roads in automobiles. I guess you'll be sending me a trophy? Oh, wait--I'm not eligible for one because I didn't actually kill anyone?

Please, please tell me your scholarly prizes for intelligent logical argument came out of a Cheerios box.

You've gotta remember who's giving this award: The sportswriters. Who have filled a lot of page inches with copy devoted to this story.

It's 20 minutes to deadline and you're 200 words short of a story--what are you going do? Well, how about that Heatley?

What this nomination really does is allow all of us--the readers--to feel like the heroes. We gave the kid another chance. And it worked, look at him go. Our support has redeemed him. Aren't we virtuous?

Maybe the disconnect is that it's hard to see what being good at hockey has to do with the car accident. Was it really difficult for him to show up and skate hard and focus on the game, or was that maybe a welcome distraction? Try showing up for your burger-flipping job day after day when you've experienced some kind of trauma. "Tough break, son, but at least there's your million-dollar carreer in the NHL to fall back on..."

Still, you could raise the same objections with pretty well any nominee--whatever their hardships, they still aren't slinging hash at Denny's. Maybe the cynicism shouldn't be directed at Heatley's nomination so much as at what this award really is: A tribute from sportswriters for making their jobs easier.

For the sake of accuracy, it was not an "accident" that killed Dan Snyder, it was the reckless disregard for the law. While he might have been under the "legal" limit, he was still inebriated when making such decision to drive, in and of itself reckless.

As for mindset, it's not just people from small-time Albera that holds these opinions. I live in big city BC (home of the canucks hahahaha) and I don't think Heatley should be rewarded for killing someone and moving on. He's responsible for his actions, he was that night, he is now. If he's going to win an award for anything, why not a scoring title, should he be fortunate enough.

This is a slap in the face for the intent of the Masterson trophy. But then, it's Ottawa. They'll need something to write about when the Sens are gone in the first round.

So we're giving him the trophy on the basis of our subjective presumption that he feels bad, because he feels bad? Thanks for clearing that up. All hail the moral achievement of the century: killing someone carelessly and suffering apparent guilt for it. Trophies all around!

Maybe the cynicism shouldn't be directed at Heatley's nomination so much as at what this award really is: A tribute from sportswriters for making their jobs easier.

Yikes. A tad pessimistic don't you think?

Yikes. A tad pessimistic don't you think?

Hard to say. I'd have to look into the history of the award, research past winners, learn something about hockey, etc. But that all exceeds my mandate as blog troll.

OILCAN, he blew a 0.01%. one beer?
Enjoy a life filled with coke and 7UP.

The thing is, he's not going to win the trophy, so no one's giving a trophy for anything, so we're debating a meaningless nomination for no reason. No trophies all around. Give it to Rem Murray and be done with it.

But that all exceeds my mandate as blog troll

*golf clap*

But seriously. Give it to Aki Berg for overcoming a crippling lack of talent to eke out a multi-year NHL career.

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