SAN JOSE, Calif. -- When they acquired Dany Heatley last September, the Sharks thought they were getting one of hockey's most dangerous snipers, a guy who would launch laserlike slap shots from all over the ice.
The Sharks were sold a bill of goods.
The goals are there. Heatley is among the NHL leaders having already scored 29. But they haven't been the blistering, highlight-reel variety. Instead, Heatley has shown an uncanny knack for ram-and-jam goals from point-blank range in front of the net -- surprising even some in the organization.
"I thought when we got this guy that we'd see him slamming home one-timers from the blue line," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "But most of his are dirty-work goals in the paint. Heater scores some ugly goals."
And this isn't figure skating. They don't award style points in the NHL. A goal is a goal.
In fact, Heatley finds any discussion of how he scores somewhat humorous. All he cares about is that he does.
"There's still the odd goal that's a one-timer, where you have time to make a pretty shot," said Heatley, who has 55 points. "But this is similar to what I've always done -- dirty goals around the net."
It's also an example of how the perceptions of Heatley have been considerably different from the guy who actually arrived in San Jose. Last summer's soap opera -- Heatley's demand to be traded out of Ottawa and his refusal to go to Edmonton -- has been well chronicled.
But Sharks teammates swear by Heatley's positive attitude, saying they've seen no diva tendencies. Meanwhile, he has seamlessly found a chemistry with Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau as they have become the most potent line in hockey this season.
Heatley's more hard-nosed style of play is not quite what was advertised, either.
Before the season, TSN analyst Ray Ferraro, Heatley's first NHL roommate, compared his friend to Hall of Famer Brett Hull for his pure shooting ability. But there was a flip side to that praise: Hull sometimes was tagged as a one-dimensional finesse player who could be invisible on the ice until he suddenly scored.
With the Sharks, however, Heatley has displayed a more complete game. He has proved to be aggressive on the forecheck and gets shifts with Thornton on the Sharks penalty kill. He also is willing to put his 6-foot-4, 220-pound frame into the corners as well as the scrapes in front of the net.
"You usually think of a goal-scorer being a little soft," Thornton said. "But he's been totally the opposite. He's tight defensively. He's physical. He's a lot more than I expected, and I think he's gotten better since he arrived here."
Don't expect much introspection from Heatley. He has a guarded personality and chooses his public comments carefully. He's also not one to overanalyze his game.
He prefers to stick with cliches. He's having fun. He enjoys coming to the rink every day. He just does whatever it takes to win.
Heatley doesn't add that he tries to give 110 percent, but you get the general idea.
"I don't feel I've changed much at all," Heatley said. "But playing in Ottawa, maybe you get typecast as a perimeter guy who just shoots the puck."
Heatley was wildly successful doing that for the Senators -- scoring 180 goals in four seasons. Sharks captain Rob Blake said Heatley would hover in space off the back post where teammate Daniel Alfredsson typically found him for open slap shots.
"But our power play is more about motion," Blake said. "Heater's no longer a stationary target, so he's not scoring goals from out there. He's learned that if he gets down into the paint, Joe will find him or he'll get a rebound."
Although those goals might not be the works of art crafted by Washington's Alex Ovechkin, they do require rare skill.
"They might look easy, but there's a reason why he scores them and other players don't," Blake added. "He's not just standing there. You need a very, very quick stick."
Translation: Goal-scorers find a way. And considering he's on pace to notch 45-plus goals this season, Heatley is doing something right.
"I do like to score one-timers," Heatley said.
But he'll take those garbage goals, too.