Facing Off: Q&A with Dany Heatley


More than 130 players changed ZIP codes since the NHL lockout ended, including former rookie of the year Dany Heatley.

Dany Heatley Heatley

A new team and a new country for Heatley, who is hoping for a new beginning after requesting a trade that led him to the Ottawa Senators. It has been a little more than two years ago that Heatley was involved in a car crash that took the life of friend and teammate Dan Snyder and left him with serious injuries that threatened to derail his career.

One of the NHL's brightest young stars talks family, Wisconsin football, music and, oh yeah, hockey with ESPN's David Amber in our first installment of Facing Off.

Q: What NHL team did you grow up cheering for?

A: Growing up in Calgary, when I was really young I was a big Flames fan. Then later on, I started to like the St. Louis Blues. I was a big Brett Hull fan. They had some pretty good teams around that time.

Q: During the lockout, you played in Russia and Switzerland. How different were those experiences?

A: In Switzerland, it was fun -- a different culture, a lot of fans, more of a soccer crowd, a lot of singing and drinking in the stands. It was fun to play in those rinks. Russia was also interesting. I played with Ilya Kovalchuk, Vinny Lecavalier and Slava Kozlov. who I played with before. It was a cool.

Q: How tough was it requesting a trade from Atlanta to another team?

A: It's tough, especially with a team that drafts you. I've had a few good years there and made a lot of great friends. I just needed a change. I need a change hockey wise and scenery wise. But there are still a lot of good friends I'll keep in touch with and never forget the people there.

Q: How different is the hockey environment now that you're playing in Ottawa instead of Atlanta?

A: I love it. I love the pressure. I love coming to the rink everyday. I love the town talking about it. It's a great place to play.

Q: Who is your roommate on the road with the Senators?

A: I room with Chris Philips on the road. I have known him for a little while having played on some Team Canada teams with him. He's a pretty easy-going guy. I give him control of the remote, so he's happy.

Q: You played against Sidney Crosby this preseason. Your impressions?

A: He's good. He skates well. He's strong on the puck. He has a lot of heat on him, but he handles it really well. I've never met him, but just watching him handle himself, he seems like a good kid.

Q: What do you think Crosby can do this year?

A: I don't want to predict anything for him. But I will say it's tough for an 18-year-old guy to come into the league and really light it up. Everyone hopes he does, but that's tough to ask of him.

Q: What was the best thing about being a student-athlete at Wisconsin?

A: The school spirit and the pride. Every sport and everyone is pulling for the football team and the hockey team. The town goes crazy for everybody. I had a lot of fun there.

Q: How closely do you follow Badger football?

A: Big time. I watch all the time, as many games as I can. Obviously, with the hockey season, it's tough to watch as much as I would like. But we're undefeated, it's big for the school. I was there the freshman year with Ron Dayne. I know a few guys, like Jets QB Brooks Bollinger. It's neat to see those guys doing well in the NFL now.

Q: What music would you choose to listen to if you were the dressing room DJ?

A: The Dave Matthews Band. Big fan of them. Our Lady Peace up in Canada. Maybe the Tragically Hip. But most of all, I'm a big Dave Mathews Band fan.

Q: What's with your gap-tooth look?

A: It's getting old. I'm going to change it up pretty soon. The dentist is all over me in Ottawa to get some new teeth. You see some young kids when they lose their teeth, [that's when they] kind of look like a hockey player. But it's getting old for me right now.

Q: If you coached the Senators, who would you use in a shootout?

A: (Laughs.) We've got Spez, (Jason Spezza), maybe Alfie (Daniel Alfredson), and after that, we have a few other guys. The one guy I wouldn't put in is Brandon Bochenski. He's scoring a lot of goals in the games, but he's not doing so well in the shootout. I'll go in there. I like going in there. I had a shootout in the World Juniors one time and scored. So I'd be pretty confident I could do a good job there.

Q: What's the expectation for the Ottawa Senators this year?

A: Stanley Cup. Everyone in the room understands it. I think this city is putting a lot of pressure on us. You can feel it in the room. Everyone is ready to go, everyone is serious and that's our goal.

David Amber is an anchor for ESPN and a contributor to ESPN.com.