The wait is over in Edmonton. Mr. Dany Heatley finally comes to town Friday, in his first appearance since spurning the Oilers in favour of the San Jose Sharks this past summer. The Oilers were prepared to surrender a trio of players - Dustin Penner, Andrew Cogliano and Ladislav Smid - to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for Sniper Dan, but Heatley invoked his no-trade clause and ultimately was traded to the Sharks, where he has developed instant chemistry with centre Joe Thornton and was leading the NHL in goal-scoring with 18 through yesterday. The Sharks put all their scoring eggs in one basket the past two games - Thornton, Heatley and Patrick Marleau - played on what could be a line for Canada's Olympic team, and they were magic together.
"The scary part," suggested Thornton "is I think we can get better."
For the Oilers, Penner's emergence as a bona-fide power forward softened the blow a little: His 25 points are not far off Heatley's total of 28. Considering Penner earns about half of what Heatley does ($4.25-million as opposed to $8-million), Edmonton may be better off without him.
None of that changes the fact that rabid Oilers fans have long memories. The boo-birds are already warming up; the reception, for Heatley, at Rexall Place, is expected to approach Pronger-ian heights of displeasure.
Around the NHL
A homecoming of sorts will unfold Friday, featuring coach John Tortorella, who leads his current team, the New York Rangers, into Tampa for its first meeting of the season with the Lightning, the team he coached to the 2004 Stanley Cup championship. Under that new and highly entertaining ownership team installed a couple of years ago in Tampa, the Lightning brilliantly replaced the successful, if prickly, Tortorella with Barry Melrose at the start of the 2008-09 season and needed just 16 games to realize the error of their ways. Melrose's replacement, Rick Tocchet, helped turn Tampa into the semblance of a competitive team, while the Rangers - lightning-fast out of the gate thanks to the scoring contributions of Marian Gaborik and Vaclav Prospal - are stumbling offensively again, with just 17 goals in their past nine games. As of yesterday, Tampa and New York were two of nine teams separated by three points in the middle of the ultratight Eastern Conference playoff race … Trying to expand their brand beyond the Ohio, Allegheny and Monongahela, the Pittsburgh Penguins will launch a weekly 30-minute Russian-language radio show on the team's new HD radio station (105.92 HD2) that will also be streamed live on pittsburghpenguins.com and nhl.com. The show will air at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time, so listeners in Moscow can hear it during afternoon drive time (4:30 p.m.). Two key Penguins' players - reigning scoring champion Evgeni Malkin and defenceman Sergei Gonchar - hail from Russia; Malkin is scheduled to appear on the inaugural broadcast, as is Hall Of Famer Igor Larionov, who reportedly has left his managerial position with the SKA St. Petersburg of the Continental Hockey League to try his hand at the player agency game. The show will be hosted by George Birman, Malkin's interpreter with the Penguins ... With eight wins in overtime or the shootout already, the Montreal Canadiens are in a position to threaten the record of 19 established by the 2007-08 Edmonton Oilers. Saturday's 3-2 shootout loss to the Detroit Red Wings was the first time all season Montreal lost in extra time this season; the Canadiens' next action is home Tuesday against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Quotable "Was he?" - Calgary Flames' captain Jarome Iginla, after being told that Steve Yzerman, executive director of Canada's 2010 men's Olympic team, was in the stands for Saturday's 5-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings, where Iginla recorded a hat trick. Iginla is on his usual November tear, with 11 goals in his past nine games, and was never in danger of losing his spot on the team anyway. Yzerman was presumably more focused on the four candidates on defence - Calgary's Jay Bouwmeester, Dion Phaneuf and Robyn Regehr - and the Kings' Drew Doughty, who finished with two points. Still two weeks shy of his 20th birthday, Doughty continues to make a strong push for one of seven spots on the Olympic team's defence.