Every once in a while, there’s a startling amount of symmetry between the NHL and the NBA. Maybe it’s because the two sports share the same basic workload (an 82-game regular season schedule, for one thing), but it still doesn’t change the fact that there are some interesting similarities.
During free agency, LeBron James took his time to make his choice (er, “The Decision”) to play with the Miami Heat while it seemed like it took all summer for Ilya Kovalchuk to become a member of the New Jersey Devils. Tonight might have been the best example of such symmetry, though, as Dany Heatley and James both went through similar experiences being heckled by fans who once embraced them.
The results will share that symmetry, as both of the two star players’ teams earned lopsided victories. While James made a more tangible impact by scoring 38 points, both Heatley and James made a difference in games that brought boisterous crowds to a hushed, stunned silence.
Heatley earned an assist and drew two hooking penalties that ended up being San Jose’s first two goals (the team went 2 for 2 on the man advantage in this game), but he was far from the only Shark who stood out in this game.
Logan Couture scored twice while Patrick Marleau and Justin Braun provided those power-play goals. Antti Niemi looked like the goalie who helped Chicago win a Stanley Cup in this high pressure game, stopping 28 shots for crowd deflating shutout.
Pascal Leclaire was probably the brightest star in a dismal night for the Senators, helping Ottawa at least remain competitive by making 29 out of 33 saves.
They might have been bitter homecoming experiences, but Heatley and LeBron ended up being some of the only people leaving their returns with a smile on their faces.