OTTAWA — Disgruntled winger Dany Heatley finally got his wish Saturday — a one-way ticket out of Ottawa.
The former 50-goal scorer was traded to the San Jose Sharks, along with a fifth-round pick in 2010 for forwards Jonathan Cheechoo and Milan Michalek and a second-round 2010 pick.
“It’s a deal that we talked about throughout the summer, although Michalek came in late,” Sens GM Bryan Murray said after announcing the deal some six hours into the first day of training camp.
“I talked to Dany (on Friday) and he was adamant that he wanted to be moved. And we felt based on that, more than anything, that we should get the value that we could get for him and move on. What we care about are the guys that are in our room and we feel that this makes the core group know where they are going forward.”
Essentially the deal offers a new start to both Heatley and Cheechoo, whose goal-scoring has diminished in recent season. Mostly, however, it removes a black cloud about the Senators’ organization.
After news leaked in June that Heatley had requested a trade, the Calgary native was silent until late August when he talked to the media just prior to the Canadian Olympic team’s orientation camp. Heatley said then he wanted out because of reduced ice time and a perceived diminished role with the club.
He provided little further insight Saturday.
“There’s some personal things that (happened) and I feel a change was the best thing,” Heatley said. “I don’t think I did anything wrong asking for a trade. I had my reasons and if people think different of me that’s fine but I feel I’ve done nothing wrong and I’m happy to move on.”
He did say he had been unhappy in Ottawa dating back to last season.
“I’m excited to be a Shark. I want to thank the City of Ottawa, I had a great four years here but now the organization and myself can move on,” Heatley said.
Murray said it has been a long summer for everyone and now it’s time to look to the future.
“What we should care about is the core of this hockey team and how we can help the guys become a competitive team again and show the fans that people care about being here, and want to be here. I felt we had to do it.”
Murray spoke with Senators owner Eugene Melnyk who told his GM: “if this is a deal you feel will make our team better or make the room better — do it.”
For his part, San Jose GM Doug Wilson is more than ready to welcome Heatley to the Shark Tank. Wilson said he’d spoke with Murray for months and is happy to finally get the deal done.
“There aren’t many guys in the league that have (Heatley’s) skill set,” said Wilson. “To be able to score 50 goals in this league, to be a type of player selected to come to the camp for probably the hardest team in the world to make which is the Canadian Olympic team . . .
“When you get a player of this calibre it can only make you better. And especially a highly motivated player, and especially a guy that’s just coming into his prime at this age.”
Wilson also made it clear he doesn’t expect Heatley to ask for a trade from San Jose in the future. Heatley was drafted by Atlanta in 2000 but requested a trade from the Thrashers in September 2003 after a car accident that resulted in the death of former teammate Dan Syder.
He spent a year playing in Switzerland and Russia before returning to the NHL with the Senators in 2005.
Heatley racked up 180 goals and 362 points in 317 games, posting 50-goal seasons in his first two years with the Senators before falling off to 41 in 2007-08 and 39 last year.
The Senators play in San Jose on Dec. 1 but the Sharks won’t visit Ottawa until next season unless the two teams meet in the Stanley Cup final in June.
The trade is essentially a saw-off in salary. Heatley, who has 260 goals and 283 assists in 507 regular games split between Atlanta and Ottawa, is due to make US$8 million this year.
Michalek, a 24-year-old left-winger from the Czech Republic, had 23 goals and 24 assists in 77 games last season. His salary is $3.5 million this year.
At six foot two and 225 pounds, Michalek is a big winger with a scoring touch — he has scored 20 goals the last three seasons. Taken sixth overall in a rich 2003 draft, the Czech is seen as a player who has yet to fully show off some great potential. The Sens will no doubt look to give him the chance to change that.
The 29-year-old Cheechoo, a hard-nosed right-winger, had 12 goals and 17 assists in 66 games last season — well down from the 56 goals he scored in 2005-06. He’s also due to make $3.5 million this season.