New twist to Heatley saga: Forward delivers not-so-subtle jabs at Ottawa Senators

August, 21, 2009

Dany Heatley finally spoke Friday, and not much has changed. He still wants out of Ottawa and is still hopeful for a trade.

But the new twist was his not-so-subtle jab at the Senators, who, he believes, leaked out his trade request.

"I did not make this trade request public, nor did my representatives. It's very unfortunate that it did become public," Heatley said.

He would go on to repeat a similar refrain three more times during the much-anticipated conference call.

"It's unfortunate again that it became public, that's not what I wanted," he reiterated.

Fact is, Dany, in this day and age, the minute you asked the Sens for a trade, you had to know it would get out. The minute Sens GM Bryan Murray phoned up other NHL GMs to gauge their interest in you, the secret is out of the bag. Other front-office personnel get wind of it, and next thing you know, it's out there.

It's hard to keep a secret of that magnitude in this small NHL family, so I think you better to let that one go.

So, now what?

Murray told us Thursday that, pretty soon, unless he's finally found a trade that makes sense, he's going to have to reach out to the Heatley camp and discuss his return to Ottawa. I asked Heatley about this Friday.

"I have a contract; I will honor that contract," said Heatley, who has $31 million and five years left on his deal after Ottawa paid a $4 million bonus July 1.

"If I'm still a Senator come training camp time, I'll be ready to go," Heatley said. "I'm a hockey player, and I'm going to play to the best of my abilities, wherever I am. But at the same time, I think we know there are other teams out there that are interested, and hopefully something can get done."

The San Jose Sharks and New York Rangers are among the teams that had talks with the Sens earlier this summer. San Jose seems like the ideal spot given GM Doug Wilson's wish to make some changes after a disappointing first-round exit last spring. And the Sharks are on Heatley's wish list. That wasn't the case with Edmonton; the star winger nixed a trade with the Oilers in early July after he decided he didn't want to play in Edmonton.

"It's nothing to do with Edmonton personally," Heatley said. "When we asked for a trade … we wanted some options. To this date, there's only been one option. At that time, the one option was Edmonton and I wasn't ready to make a decision. Not until I had other options.

"They were not on our initial list of teams that I gave the Senators to talk to," Heatley later added. "When that trade came up, it came as a big surprise."

Not sure that answer appeased the several Edmonton reporters on Friday's call. The Ottawa media had a simple question: why?

"It's not something that I woke up one day and decided I was ready to ask for a trade," Heatley said. "It's something I thought about privately for a long time. I waited until after the season to really be sure.

"The main reason is that when I signed [the extension] in Ottawa two years ago, I felt I was going to be an integral part of the team. I think over the last two years, and more recently over the past year, I feel that my role has diminished; especially this past season, it diminished a lot more," he said. "It's something I've been thinking about for a long time. A diminished role -- that's the biggest thing. I'm a player that can play in a lot of different situations. I'm an offensive guy, but I take pride in all aspects of the game and I don't feel I was given that role on the team."

Heatley was fifth on the Senators in ice time per game last season at 20:06, second among forwards behind Daniel Alfredsson (20:52). It was down from the 21:44 per game he played in 2007-08. He averaged 21:01 minutes per game in 2006-07.

Heatley broke his silence Friday so as not to become a distraction at the Canadian Olympic camp, which begins Monday in Calgary.

Repeating that he was disappointed that his trade request became public, Heatley said this has been a tough go for everyone involved.

"I regret the way it's been this summer. It's been a tough summer," he said. "It hasn't been fair, especially to Edmonton and Ottawa, but that's the way it went."

Pierre LeBrun

ESPN Senior Writer



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