DENVER – There’s no denying the Wild’s Dany Heatley is struggling.
The forward, who has scored 366 career goals, said before the season he would disappointed if he didn’t pot 30 this year. Through 35 games though, Heatley is tied for fourth on the team with six goals, ranks 10th with 10 points and is a team-worst minus-10 (minus-9 on the road)..
At age 32, he just hasn’t resembled the Dany Heatley of years past. Despite reporting to training camp in great shape, Heatley has slowed.
Turnovers have been an issue and for much of November and the past three games, he has been relegated to the fourth line.
Coach Mike Yeo has tried hard to kick Heatley, who has three even-strength goals, into gear. Heatley, who is in the final year of his contract, spent most the first month of the season on a second line that scored no goals. He has spent the year bouncing from the first power-play unit to the second power-play unit.
So far, Yeo has resisted scratching him. Asked Friday if that might inevitably be coming, Yeo said, “I’m still hoping it’s not. I still have faith — and you look at where he’s at statistically on our team, it’s not like he’s at the bottom, so he’s still a guy that’s capable of scoring goals for a team that hasn’t been scoring a lot of goals.
“To say that it’s been easy, it’s been hard for sure. We feel bad for him, and all his teammates do, too. We wish things were going better. That said, what do we do about it, how do we work our way out of it?”
Against Colorado, Yeo scratched rookie Justin Fontaine, who also has six goals but none since Nov. 9, for the third time in nine games.
Yeo talked with Fontaine during the morning skate.
“He’s got to keep a positive attitude,” Yeo said. “He’s got to understand that when you’re a young kid, you’re just paying your dues. He’s a first-year player … who’s still trying to prove himself.”
Yeo called San Jose Sharks coach Todd McLellan on Friday to apologize for accusing the Sharks of embellishing calls during his postgame remarks after Thursday’s 3-1 loss.
“My intention was not to call them out, my intention was not to call the refs out,” Yeo said. “I don’t want to be doing that stuff. At that point, I wanted to stick up for our players. It was emotional after the game. I was ticked off that our guys put a lot into the game and I felt there were a couple things in the game that made it tough on our group.”
McLellan told Sharks reporters he was upset when hearing of Yeo’s comments and appreciated Yeo reaching out.
“He was very professional, the organization was, they reached out, and we’re good,” McLellan said.
With the Wild planning to replace its center-ice scoreboard at Xcel Energy Center, Matt Majka, the Wild’s chief operating officer, attended Saturday’s game in Denver to see the Pepsi Center’s new state-of-the-art giant scoreboard and observe the game operations.
Owner Craig Leipold attended October’s game at Tampa Bay to see the Lightning’s new scoreboard and the Wild plans to send a representative to Madison Square Garden to see the Rangers’ new scoreboard and games ops when the Wild plays there next Sunday.