January 3, 2006

“Booooo” Grogan bellowed.

“We supported you, you jerk,” he shouted once as the player skated by with his eyes fixed on the ice.

Then later, as he stood just on the other side of the Plexiglas from him, Grogan shouted: “Welcome back, you jerk!”

“That’s probably not something I should be proud of,” Grogan said later. “But I can’t imagine people cheering him when he comes back in an opposing uniform. Cheer him for getting his life straightened out, OK, but how can you cheer him on the opposing team if you’re a true fan?”

Wings fans on New Year’s Eve?  Nope, gutless, pathetic Thrasher “fans” last night in Atlanta when Dany Heatley returned with Ottawa.

This kid deserved better.  He did not leave the team that drafted and took care of him because he wanted more money, or to be “the man,” or for the lush Ontario climate and bustling Ottawa nightlife.

In other words, this is not Sergei Fedorov we’re talking about here.

Monday was his first game back in town, now as an Ottawa Senator, and he was met with boos — during his warm-up, his mention in the starting lineup, his introduction, and virtually every time he touched the puck during the game.

That was 13 times in the first period alone, starting with a shot on goal that sailed wide in the opening moments.

I’m just a dumb Sailor, but let me try to figure this out.  The Atlanta fans booed Dany Heatley because he could not get past the nightmares that walked with him every step in Atlanta?

This is not a player leaving because his game had gone sour and it was time to get the cash while he could before his skills diminished to the point that he couldn’t rake it in any longer.

“Through the whole accident, the community supported him,” said Thrasher fan Paul Gawryszewski, 43, of Marietta. “I felt he let the community down. It seemed like he kind of left us high and dry.”

He, his wife Nancy and their 11-year-old daughter Megan booed from their seats in the third deck throughout the game.

“He thumbed his nose at the support the city gave him,” Nancy Gawryszewski said. “I thought he showed a lot of integrity through the ordeal, then a complete lack of integrity when he asked to be traded.”

Their 11 year old daughter booed Dany Heatley.  I’m sorry, but that is disgusting.The whole family made the outing, bought the programs, excitedly took their seats, snapped the pictures, cheered their team and booed a guy who wanted out of the place that reminded him the most of that horrific incident.

Dany Heatley should have been applauded in Atlanta last night.  Those that booed should be ashamed.  The fact that they’re hockey “fans” is an embarrassment to us all.

More from the Atlanta Journal Constitution…

Updated:  Bruce Garrioch’s column this morning featured a few quotes from Bob Hartley.  Not surprisingly, Heatley’s former coach doesn’t harbor the same misguided ill will the crowd in Phillips Arena showed last night.

“Like I said before, there’s not a game he plays that I don’t look at the box score to see what he does because, obviously, he was a big part of this organization,” said Hartley. “We all understand what happened because we went through this with him.

“It was a life decision. I’m very respectful of that. He’s a quality young man, and now he has a chance to get away from those thoughts and everything.”

More from Garrioch…

6 Responses to “Justified?”

  1. CasonBlog Says:

    Chief-You must be an Airdale cause you’re obviously more astute than the average Blackshoe or Bubblehead. The Heatley deal worked for all concerned. No kid should bear the burden of such an awful a mistake at such a young age. He and Kovalchuk pumped life into that dismal franchise when they came on board, and dude gets booed for his troubles.

  2. iwocpo Says:

    Well brother, I wear brown shoes, but only because they look better in khakis. My air pin resides below my surface, where it belongs..:) I agree with you, obviously, on Heatley. I’m glad I didn’t watch that game last night.

  3. CasonBlog Says:

    It must be this exposure to life at the top of the Navy food chain that makes you a great analyst. Great stuff-Fly Navy-and Go ‘Canes

  4. […] Iwo: Personally, I’ve always taken great pride in the fact that hockey fans are a few notches above our counterparts in the other major sports. I still believe that, but the behavior in Vancouver and Atlanta this week is dragging our fan base into the much with the others sports. […]

  5. Anonymous Says:

    Heatly rocks, and I am proud that he is now with Ottawa. I think it was a terrible rotten thing to do booing the guy when he came back to Atlanta the first time.

  6. megan gawryszewski Says:

    I’m the 11 year old girl that booed Dany Heatley. I just wanted to set a few things straight. First, we have had season tickets for a long time so we did not buy tickets for this “outing” and the programs are free so we did not purchase those either. Second, I never get “excited” or feel euphoria when I go to a hockey game and no one takes pictures, that is really weird. Next, if you are going to do a report, GET THE FACTS CORRECT. We sat in our seats and booed not because Mr. Heatley left the place where his accident occured, but because of what he said when he left. He was very snotty and disgraced the people of Atlanta. That is why I booed.

    Thank you for listening to my side of the story, Meg

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