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Ott whines, Heatley sits
Sharks forward suspended two games for elbow
3/16/11 - By Mike Lee -

One of the reasons I fell in love with hockey, aside from the speed and grace of a human being racing on a sheet of frozen water on two quarter-inch blades bolted to his shoes while trying to maneuver a small piece of vulcanized rubber, is the notion of a self imposed code of conduct. There's simply something honorable about a game that allows it to be controlled by an unwritten set of rules and behaviors. Then there are games like Tuesday night's debacle in Dallas, which remind you that not everyone lives by that code.

I'll go on record by saying that I think what transpired in Dallas, in the Sharks 6-3 win over the Stars, was simply pathetic. There are two parties involved in this mess, and both are guilty of behavior that disrespects everything that's great about hockey.

Everyone is well aware of the antics of Dallas agitator Steve Ott. His shtick is nothing new. When you have no skill to lean on, you have to rely on other skills. For Ott, it's being a pest, and cheap shot artist.

Dany Heatley is no choir boy, but his reputation irks people more for his actions off the ice. People have their opinions about Heatley because of his culpability in the death of Dan Snyder in 2003 or the way he handled his contract situation in Ottawa in 2009. On the ice, his behavior isn't something that typically draws the ire of fans.

Both players played a role in Tuesday night's debacle that landed Heatley in front of a disciplinary hearing on Wednesday afternoon. That board ruled that the elbow that Heatley threw at Ott was worthy of a two game suspension that Healtey will serve when the Sharks face the Minnesota Wild and St Louis Blues Thursday and Saturday.

The suspension will also cost Heatley $80 thousand in salary, which will go to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund.

Ott undoubtedly took great satisfaction in hearing that Heatley had been sanctioned for his actions that left Ott, "with headaches from the camera lights", that were used to shine down on the Stars agitator during a post-game interview session on Tuesday night.

Ott used the opportunity to jump on a soapbox and vent about the plague known as the head shot that has infected the league this season. It was the perfect opportunity to knock out an opponent for two games without having to throw one of his patented knee-level checks. He got Heatley suspended simply by acting as if a sniper's bullet cut him down when Heatley threw his elbow.

"I think Colin Campbell's got his hands full, that's for sure," Ott told reporters. "I think the Loui Eriksson hit is prototypical. He's reaching for the hit. The big guy (Douglas Murray) knows what he's doing. He's bearing down and finishing the check. He did it again on an offensive play against Vincour, elbowed him right in the face. My head's killin' me from this light right now from Dany Heatley's little cheap shot."

He got Heatley suspended by linking his incident to the hottest hockey topic of the hour, concussions. Ott didn't suffer a concussion of course. That's because he either didn't get hit hard enough to suffer a concussion, or the spacing between his tiny brain and skull is large enough to buffer any contact between the two. I'm going with not getting hit hard enough to cause a concussion.

Ott doesn't actually have a tiny brain. It's his spine that's missing.

With a reputation like his, it's comical to think that anyone would take Ott's comments on Tuesday night seriously. It was Ott, who was tossed from a game last week for spearing the Kings Kyle Clifford.

With that said, was Heatley's behavior justified? No. He threw an elbow away from the puck. It was a bone-headed move, worthy of Ott's admiration actually. If anyone can critique a cheap-shot, it's Ott. I was really expecting to hear him grade the quality of the elbow, not complain about it.

That doesn't admonish Heatley from his decision to put the Sharks in a precarious position. With the Sharks clinging to a one-goal lead late in a game that was beginning to tilt in the Stars favor, Heatley's move was ridiculous for the simple fact that it could have cost the San Jose the game against a division rival that's three points behind in the standings. Simply put it was a selfish decision.

Heatley received his punishment, but the league has to factor in the notion that Steve Ott was on the receiving end of that elbow. They needed to recognize that Ott was holding court after the game, lobbying for the league to suspend Douglas Murray for clean open-ice hit, mocking the game in order to derive an advantage for his team as the playoff race winds down.

All the league did is promote the notion that gamesmanship will be rewarded if you whine loud enough.

Hopefully Heatley recognizes that he will be judged by the number of pucks he deposits in opposing nets, rather than the number of agitators that he settles scores with. He'll have two evenings free this week to ponder that.


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