Note: Blake Isaacs is a new writer for Puck Junk. Please welcome him with a comment below.
On my twentieth birthday, I received an Anaheim Ducks t-shirt jersey with the name Heatley on the back. To clarify, I am not and have never been a supporter of the Anaheim Ducks (but I do love the Mighty Ducks movies). Why would I be gifted an Anaheim Ducks, Heatley t-shirt — especially since Heatley played six games with Anaheim and then was sent down to the minors, never to return to the NHL. Why would I want a Dany Heatley Anaheim Ducks t-shirt? Because of @DanyAllstar15, that’s why.
Dany Heatley played his last game in the NHL against the Phoenix Coyotes in Glendale, AZ on Saturday, December 27, 2014. This is where his hockey legacy would end, but not his online one. As most hockey fans know, Heatley was involved in a deadly car accident where he lost control of his Ferrari Modena 360, crashing into an iron fence, which resulted in significant injuries for him and killed his friend and teammate Dan Snyder. On the ice, he is regarded as one of the most prolific goal scorers in during the 2000s. But on the internet is where his legacy transformed him from baggage-riddled superstar hockey player to online hockey icon. None of which was his doing.
I learned that Dany Heatley owned a boat. You can see it by searching “Dany Heatley in DA HOUSE” on YouTube. The video resembles an episode of MTV Cribs, but is voiced over and parodies the personality of Dany Heatley, portraying him as a selfish, rich athlete. The jokes are meant to poke fun at Heatley’s contentious departure from Ottawa and intends to make him seem like he only played hockey for the money. The YouTube video was the inspiration for the Twitter account @DanyAllstar15, which was born November 2012. Though the video and the Twitter account were not created by the same person, the video was the direct inspiration for the Twitter personality.
A friend referred me to @DanyAllstar15 during my senior year of high school in 2012. Parody Twitter accounts were popping up everywhere. Growing up in metro Detroit, @NotJasonHanson, a parody of the Detroit Lions’ long-tenured place kicker Jason Hanson, was gaining swift internet popularity. There was something great about parody accounts that gave life to famous athletes that had the personality of a college dean’s wardrobe. Heatley was different though, being a former superstar who could light the lamp at a moment’s notice. The personality of the account seemed to fit many people’s perception of him.
The first-person Twitter account frequently refers to Heatley as a “fuckin all-star” in direct reference to the video. The attitude and language of the account, like the video, portrays Heatley as selfish, arrogant, and cocky. @DanyAllstar15 is a character, one of a meathead hockey player that only cares about scoring goals and drinking Bacardi vodka. While Heatley was still playing and relevant in the NHL, the content of the account mostly revolved around Heatley and other NHL news. What many don’t know, is that the attitude of the account, which was partially inspired by the YouTube video, also took huge inspiration from the account holder himself.
I reached out to the man behind @DanyAllstar15, who chose to remain anonymous. “I started the account in November of 2012,” he said. “I was on a bus trip with my team and me and my teammate from Ottawa were watching the parody video. I thought like, holy shit, this is right up my alley. So I made it right on the spot on my phone because I knew I’d be able to come up with tweets that revolve around a character such as the all-star.”
Getting internet famous isn’t easy, but the fact that @DanyAllstar15’s personality matched the one portrayed by Heatley in the video allowed for an easy creative transition. “The legacy of my Twitter account is quite an interesting one if we are going to call it a legacy,” he said. “It was strictly a parody for the first couple years, and then as Dany Heatley’s playing days were limited I slowly started integrating my own jokes and thoughts. From being a Twitter user since, like 2010ish, I know that most ‘parody’ accounts are relevant for a year or two and then fade away – mostly in part because the people who run them are making the same jokes over and over again. With my account, on a much smaller scale than an NHL player, I was pretty much doing the same thing I was talking about — which was playing hockey, partying, and pretty much not giving a shit about anything (LOL) so it was way easier to keep tweeting original content.”
The authentic content was a big reason the account was so successful with its followers. But @DanyAllstar15 didn’t take off immediately. The account holder estimates that he had 1,000 followers before things got rolling, and it was the doing of then Edmonton Oilers forward, Taylor Hall. After Hall interacted with the account — @DanyAllstar15 isn’t sure if Hall retweeted or replied to one of his tweets — the account jumped from around 1,000 followers to approximately 10,0000 followers. And all thanks to Taylor Hall, who @DanyAllstar15 says, “I owe Taylor Hall a very large beer.”
After Hall’s interaction, the account began to gain traction, but it was the authenticity of @DanyAllstar’s content and knack for a good catchphrase that took the account to the next level. If you ask anyone familiar with the account to describe Heatley, they would in three words” “50 in ’07.” This refers to the second of Heatley’s consecutive 50-goal season in 2006-07. The best season of his career and the year he helped the Senators to the Stanley Cup Finals. @DanyAllstar15 created this slogan, and it has become synonymous with the legacy of Dany Heatley, and the main reason why his Twitter legacy is so important.
The phrase “50 in ’07” can be described as its own attitude. @DanyAllstar15 describes it on his website as the following:
The brand and the phrase “50 in ’07” represented a unique, satirical, and comical “I’m the hottest piece of shit to walk the planet” attitude that took on a heavy following due to its comical yet authentic image. What do I mean by authentic? It means that “50 in ’07” has never projected a cliché or corny “lifestyle” brand to people in order to appear like something it’s not, but has rather always taken a realistic approach. If you like the clothes, wear the shit. If you don’t, then don’t wear it. It’s that simple. To put it in words, the “50 in ’07” mentality encourages people to carry themselves with an electric confidence, and refuse to settle for less. I don’t even know what “electric confidence” really means, but it sounds fucking sweet.
“50 in ’07” is an attitude. It has also developed into an established brand. After his junior hockey career, @DanyAllstar15 was dreading working a summer job. With the insistence of his followers he launched the clothing line.
“People asked me over and over again for merchandise, so I’ll have to give that credit to the ‘fans’ of the account,” he said. “I didn’t listen to them, but one day I literally just said, ‘hey, this could be an alternative to working my shitty summer job.’ Luckily, it worked out.”
The slogan has even been mentioned in some unique places. “So many times it has been used by broadcasters on TV, on signs at NHL games, written on people, tattooed on people,” @DanyAllstar15 said.
Not only did @DanyAllstar15 turn a parody Twitter account of the former superstar into a budding business, but he also transformed Heatley’s legacy. From personal experience, every single person I have ever uttered Heatley’s name to has responded with “50 in ’07.” It has become an inside joke among hockey fans and followers of @DanyAllstar15, especially among those who share that attitude. For a generation of social media-savvy hockey fans, Heatley’s legacy is far different than it is for most. From the public’s perspective, his personal legacy is one of tragedy and burned bridges. His hockey legacy is primarily one of a prolific goal scorer. But it is his online legacy that sets him apart. The Twitter account @DanyAllstar15 completely transformed his public image and legacy into one of a cocky goal scorer with a love for Bacardi.
Dany Heatley seems as if he has fallen off the map since his departure from the NHL. Outside of a legal dispute in 2017 with a former agent, his name has stayed out of the news since his retirement. It is possible that we have heard the last from Heatley. For some, his legacy will continue to be that of a talented hockey player involved in a tragedy. But, for approximately 210,000 Twitter users, “50 in ’07” will be how they remember Dany Heatley. ■
Blake Isaacs is a die-hard Red Wings fan that doesn’t go to as many games as he should. He is also a big fan of 7/11 Slurpees, Chipotle, and all things Michigan State.