Heatley played with the University of Wisconsin-Madison hockey team, and was drafted by the Atlanta Thrashers second overall in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft after Rick DiPietro. He won the NHL Calder Memorial Trophy for Rookie of the Year after scoring 26 goals and 67 points in 82 games.
2003 All-Star game
Dany was also picked as Most Valuable Player of the 2003 NHL All-Star Game. During that game, he found himself constantly complimented by Eastern Conference teammate Jeremy Roenick, then of the Philadelphia Flyers. Watching Heatley from the bench, the then 33-year-old Roenick said, "Twenty-two years old? You're not supposed to be able to pull moves like that at 22. My goodness." After Heatley scored another goal off a feed from Jaromir Jagr and Olli Jokinen, and noticing Heatley's missing tooth, Roenick said to the young star in relation to his smile, "The good thing is that you're gonna win that truck. The bad thing is you're gonna be smiling all day on TV and I don't really think that's that pretty."
On September 29, 2003, Heatley was seriously injured after he lost control of the Ferrari 360 Modena he was driving and struck a wall, splitting the car in half and ejecting him and his passenger, teammate Dan Snyder. Heatley suffered a broken jaw, a minor concussion, a bruised lung, bruised kidney, and tore three ligaments in his right knee; Snyder was critically injured with a skull fracture, fell into a coma, and died six days later on October 5. Despite forgiveness from Dan Snyder's family, Heatley was charged with vehicular homicide as a result of the crash. He pleaded guilty to second-degree vehicular homicide, driving too fast for conditions, failure to maintain a lane, and speeding. He was sentenced to three years probation. Heatley returned to play 31 games later in the 2003-04 NHL season, scoring 25 points.
During the 2004-05 NHL lockout, Heatley initially played for the Swiss team SC Bern. He played well, scoring more than a point per game, until being injured in November when he required surgery for a broken orbital bone after being struck in the left eye with a puck. The pupil in his left eye became permanently dilated as a result. He finished the year with the All-Star laden AK Bars Kazan in the Russian Superleague, joining former Thrashers teammate and friend Ilya Kovalchuk, among others, but had an unimpressive stint. He also played in the 2005 World Championships, but had a disappointing tournament compared to the previous year in Prague, where he was part of the gold medal winning team.
Prior to the return of the NHL in 2005, still suffering from the constant reminders of his tragic accident, Heatley asked to be traded from Atlanta. On August 23rd, 2005 he was sent to the Ottawa Senators for established Slovak star Marian Hossa and veteran defenceman Greg de Vries. Heatley made a spectacular start with his new team. On October 5th, 2005, opening night for the 2005-06 NHL season, Daniel Alfredsson and Dany Heatley became the first players to score goals in the 1st official NHL shootout in history when they both scored against the Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Ed Belfour. Their sticks were subsequently sent to the Hockey Hall of Fame. Heatley managed a 22-game scoring streak to begin the 2005-06 season. Among players with new teams, this was behind only Wayne Gretzky's 23-game streak upon joining the Los Angeles Kings during the 1988-89 NHL season. Heatley's scoring streak surpassed Marian Hossa's franchise record. The hardest game of the season for Heatley was his first game back at Philips Arena. The Thrashers fans booed his every move, especially when he scored a goal. The game proved to be the hardest loss for the Senators all year, an 8-3 defeat powered by a four-point game for Slava Kozlov. Heatley finished the season with 50 goals and 53 assists, giving him his first 100-point season. He set the team record in goals (first in Senators history to 50), and tied the record for total points (103).
Thanks to his spectacular start to the season, he was selected to play for Canada at the 2006 Winter Olympics. However, in a disappointing group effort, the team was eliminated in the quarter-finals.
In the 2006-07 season despite a slow start, he soon stepped up his play, especially when his linemate Jason Spezza was out with an injury. Behind Vincent Lecavalier with 52 goals, he finished with 50 goals and became the first NHL player to score at least 50 goals in consecutive seasons since Pavel Bure in 1999-2000. His 105 points broke the team record he tied the previous year. He also had an excellent plus-minus rating of 31.
Awards and acheivements
Played for Canada in: