Ray Ratto

Ratto: Dany Heatley -- Ottawa's Lebron James


Ratto: Dany Heatley -- Ottawa's Lebron James


OTTAWA -- Dany Heatley made the cover of both Ottawa papers today, in much the same way that LeBron James was probably on the cover of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

In the staid Citizen, he was the subject of a fairly thorough but largely even-handed column from Wayne Scanlan. In the Sun, he had a pacifier stuck in his mouth and instructions on a DIY mask for fans to wear at tonight's Sharks-Senators game. The theme for the evening, as graphically portrayed:

Tonight's The Night.

PREVIEW: Sharks (11-8-4) vs. Ottawa (11-13-1)

Dichotomy, thy name is Canada.

Heatley left Ottawa more than a year ago, no longer BFF's with coach Cory Clouston or upper management, and declining a trade to Edmonton that would have enriched the Senators to the tune of Dustin Penner, Andrew Cogliano and Ladislav Smid.

In short, he's not well liked in many of these parts, unless we misunderstood Sun columnist Don Brennan's tag line this morning:

"Give it to the selfish suckhole, people. Give it to him good."
SOUND OFF: "selfish suckhole"? That guy is a journalist?" -- auvaa
Without knowing what if any history the two men have, we can only assume that "suckhole" falls short of being a term of endearment. But Brennan did offer that he still won't be the most hated man in Ottawa's long and proud 20-year history (still Alexei Yashin), and he bemoaned the likelihood that Heatley would score at least one goal and that no Senator save maybe veteran enforcer Chris Neil would even hit him with a hard check "because the Senators don't hit anyone any more."

RELATED: Dany Heatley stats

Well, that kind of sucks the fun out of the moral lesson.

Now we're not here to say anyone's right or wrong. Different horses for different courses and all that. Heatley has been a fine enough fellow in San Jose, playing hurt through much of the playoffs in April and May while delivering a worthy target for Joe Thornton.

And it may very well be that Clouston was under orders to show a firmer hand than Heatley liked, and Heatley chafed to the point of forcing his way out of town. Two things can be equally true.

RELATED: NHL scoreboard

Point is, Heatley didn't net the Senators the treasure trove of Oilers, but a second-line deal with San Jose that brought Jonathan Cheechoo (back in San Jose's control at Worcester) and Milan Michalek (grinding through games with a balky knee) and a second-round draft pick. Not a lot of return, that.

Plus, owner Eugene Melnyk is still trying to get the 4 million signing bonus Heatley collected after refusing the Oiler trade, so there won't be hugs and smoochies there, either.

But unless the crowd basically storms the ice, the best Heatley will face is a lot of masks of his pacifier-ed likeness, some very pointed (and probably funny if you're not Heatley) signs, and lots of booing. He's had that before.

But it might not have been a bad idea to send LeBron here and Heatley to Cleveland for one night, just to keep the peace. Two games would have been ruined, sure, but we wouldn't have had to read the word "suckhole" over our morning coffee.
Ray Ratto is a columnist for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.

Celtics are the rivals Warriors fans need

Celtics are the rivals Warriors fans need

You don’t think you needed this game to go this way, but you did, and you do.

The Golden State Warriors spat out a 17-point lead and lost, 92-88, in Boston Thursday night, in a game that was taut if not particularly elegant, and in a game that elevated the Celtics to a place that makes them the new heir apparent to the heir apparent.

The Celtics have been a difficult out for the Warriors during the Brad Stevens Era, losing six of nine but only being blown out twice, and Thursday was not one of those nights. The box score will tell you the shooting and rebounding problems, but the Warriors had that lead and didn’t hold it. Or, to be accurate, the Celtics had that deficit and refused to let it destroy them.

Which is exactly the kind of team you, the fully licensed Warrior fan, want to watch play your team in the NBA Finals. You want to see them genuinely challenged, forced to win outside their comfort zone, induced to show their greatness in the highest of high leverage situations.

At least we think that’s what you want. Maybe you prefer blowouts so you can drink and go to the bathroom without care or fear. After all, the Warriors have taught the area the true meaning of front-running by being in front so often.

But the Celtics play a level of defense typically reserved for the San Antonio Spurs, and yes, the Warriors. They have a spiky exoskeleton that the acquisition of Kyrie Irving has actually enhanced, and Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum give them a gifted precocity that fits well with veterans like Al Horford and Marcus Morris, and Boston’s overall youth (they are fifth youngest, while Golden State is third-oldest) ought to make them a more difficult conundrum than Cleveland or any other team in either conference.

They are not yet the superior team; that remains to be proven, and betting against the Warriors requires a level of irrational bravery left only for the truly self-destructive.

But they are, as we sit this evening, the team the Warriors will have to work hardest to finish, because on a night when they had the chance to do so, they didn’t. In other words, the fight for a third ring still goes through Oakland, but it looks more and more like a one-stop through Boston.

And as much as you may hate thinking about it, you’ll almost certainly remember, and savor, a Celtics-Warriors final more than another round of Cavs-on-the-half-shell.

Three reasons Draymond Green is the perfect college professor


Three reasons Draymond Green is the perfect college professor

Programming note: Warriors-Celtics coverage starts today at 4 p.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area and streaming live right here 

Draymond Green spoke to a group of students at Harvard Thursday on the subject of leadership, and if you find that incongruous, shame on you.
I mean, who else would you want as a college professor?
Green has led, and been led. He has learned, and he has taught. He has certainly lectured, as any teammate, official and media member will testify. He’d be a hell of a teacher, and the subject almost doesn’t matter.
For one, homework would be different, as in I’d bet there would be no written work. I don’t see Prof. Day-Day poring over essays about the Industrial Revolution, M-theory or pre-Raphaelite art. Not even the history of Basketball-Reference.com.

For two, having tenured faculty audit his classes may find his choice of rhetoric a little strident, as in “What the ---- were you thinking, dude?” is not typically approved instructional methodology.
And three, nobody would get a grade. Green would mark every exam with a “35,” as in his draft position, and besides, the exams would be students arguing with each other over whether that was a foul or a no-call, and who pulled the better face when the call was made. He’d give either an approving nod or give the loser a second technical foul and kick him or her out of class.
But it would be a hell of a class. Not at Harvard, of course, because Green probably would want to teach a school that could better use his brand of wisdom, and Harvard kids already have a healthy lead off third base. He’d want his students to make Harvard students cry, you can just tell.
But wouldn’t he look perfectly Draymond in a cap and gown on graduation day, pulling a bottle out of his sleeve to make the valedictory speeches less painful. “Damn, dude,” you could hear him yell. “Peaking?”