Throwback Thursday: The Heatley For Hossa Trade


Have you ever heard the term Throwback Thursday?” Well if you are relatively young and have Twitter, Instagram, or even Facebook, you must hear it all the time. Well today’s Thursday, and I thought I’d begin a new segment called Throwback Thursday, in which I look back on various Ottawa Senator trades, free agent signings, games, etc. In the long hot summer, hockey fans need to relive some memories, even if some of them aren’t so great.

The first throwback I thought of was the Dany Heatley trade, here’s a look at what it looked like:

The official deal was Heatley for Marian Hossa and Greg de Vries, although most people remember it as Heatley for Hossa straight up. The day of the trade was August 23rd, 2005, and the first season after the full year lockout was about to begin. It was extremely odd timing because on the same day Hossa had signed a three-year extension with the team, and it looked like he would be staying for quite a while.

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However, the extension was only so his value could improve for the Thrashers, as the Senators were looking to pry Heatley away after he wanted out of Atlanta. Heatley was seen as a risk because in 2003 he had been in a car accident that killed his friend and teammate, Dan Snyder. He was charged with vehicular homicide and sentenced to three years probation. No matter what his skills were like on the ice, the question had to be asked whether or not Ottawa wanted someone like him on the team.

And even without the off ice issues, when Ottawa acquired him he had missed the previous season due to the lockout, and only played in 31 games in 2003-04 because of the car accident. He was two years removed from his fantastic 89 point season, so there perhaps might have been some concerns with people for various reasons.

The first two seasons after the trade, it looked like a win for the Senators. Heatley put up back to back 50 goal seasons, with 103 points in 2006 and 105 points in 2007. Even in the playoffs he was magnificent, with 34 points in 30 games. Him, Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza were named the “Pizza Line,” and they were the best in hockey. They helped Ottawa win the Eastern Conference in 2006, and brought them to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2007.

Spezza and Heatley were both young, while Alfredsson still had some good years left. The next few years were looking bright. For comparison, Hossa was still playing very well for the Thrashers. With Ilya Kovalchuk he notched 92 points in 2006 and 100 points in 2007. He wasn’t that far off Heatley’s pace, but because of Ottawa’s success the trade seemed to have worked in the Senators favour.

Fast forward to present day and it seems like Ottawa may have made a bit of a blunder. Heatley had two fantastic seasons in Ottawa, and over the next two years he still had 154 points in 153 games which was extremely valuable. But after the 2008-09 season he wanted out of Ottawa because of coach Cory Clouston, as he had his mind set on forcing a trade to San Jose.

Would the Senators be better off if Hossa was never traded? I’d say yes, to be honest

He got his wish, and in return the Senators received Milan Michalek and Jonathan Cheechoo. Cheechoo had almost no impact in Ottawa, but Michalek is still here.

While he has been a somewhat productive player, Heatley has become a sub-par AHL player, and Hossa is still producing at a first line level.

The question has to be asked: would the Senators be better off if Hossa was never traded? I think yes, to be honest. They may not have had as dominant a line as they did in the first two seasons after the lockout, but Hossa has been such a steady producer over the course of his career, and even now at age 36 he has 61 points.

They may not have made the Finals in 2007, but perhaps they would have another year and actually won the cup. The difference between the two players from 2005-2009 is not much different. Heatley had 362 points in 317 games (94 points per season), while Hossa had 329 points in 308 games (88 points per season). The Senators teams during those four years may not have seen the same success with Hossa, but they would be much better now.


"From 2009 to present, here is how the two compare for point totals:Heatley: 248 points in 280 games (0.88 P/PG)Hossa: 337 points in 397 games (0.85 P/PG)"

Heatley still has the edge here, but very slightly. Plus those numbers are heavily inflated by his two seasons in San Jose. He was still a productive player at the time, but Hossa’s game has always stayed at a very good pace. Cutting down the numbers ever further to 2011 to present, it’s not even close who has been the better player.

Apr 21, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Marian Hossa (81) with the puck during the first period in game four of the first round of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Heatley has averaged a measly 42 points a season since his trade to Minnesota, while Hossa has maintained his pace of 68 points per season. So looking back, in the short-term it was a win for Ottawa. But in the long-term, they should have held on to Hossa. He’s an ageless wonder, and somehow he’s still a magician with the puck.

I really do wonder where Ottawa would be right now if he was still on the team, because their window to compete after 2007 may have been much longer than it was in reality. Nobody will ever forget the amazing first line that the Senators had for a few seasons, but it’s also sad to think that Hossa could have been here all along too.

Perhaps he would have been traded eventually or left for free agency, but it’s fun to wonder nevertheless. For this throwback Thursday, think about all great plays Heatley made for Ottawa, but also think about the possibilities of a current Senators team with another 60+ point player that can dominate. Interesting thought.

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