Wild forward Dany Heatley suffered a torn labrum late last season and entered 2013-14 in the final year of a contract that carried a $7.5 million cap hit. Heatley and the Wild hoped he would be healthy and motivated for a comeback season. Instead, the former two-time 50-goal scorer has bounced all over the line chart and entered the weekend with 12 goals. He spoke with the Star Tribune’s Michael Rand about his season and other subjects:
Q How would you characterize this year up to this point?
A It’s been ups and downs. As a team, we’ve played pretty well overall and put ourselves in a good spot down the stretch. Personally, it’s been an up-and-down year. Really slow start. Picked it up the last little while and I want to stay strong to the end.
Q Are there any forwards you haven’t played with this year?
A No, I think I’ve played with everybody. And probably three or four guys in Iowa, too.
Q How do you adapt to a constantly evolving role, because it really does seem to be all over the map?
A Yeah, it’s challenging. But the way we play, the system we play, we want all four lines to play similarly. From that aspect, it makes it a little easier. It’s tough sometimes finding chemistry when you’re jumping around. I’ve found some with some guys, and other guys it’s still a work in progress.
Q When the Wild made the deadline trade bringing in Matt Moulson and Cody McCormick, did you sense your role might change again?
A Yeah. I mean, a team that’s in the hunt is always going to make moves. I think bringing those two guys in, we’re a better team. We just have to find a way to win games now.
Q Your owner has been pretty adamant about not just making the playoffs but wanting to see more than what happened last year. Does that put additional pressure on you, or do you want an owner with expectations like that?
A You want that. And he’s absolutely right. We squeaked in last year and didn’t have a very good first round. We want to make sure we’re in for sure this year and looking to do some damage.
Q You played at Wisconsin, and the first Big Ten tournament is coming up. What do you think of this conference, and do you think people are going to miss the old WCHA?