OTTAWA — The Ottawa Senators appear to be back at Square 1 in the Dany Heatley saga.
A trade proposed earlier this week that would have seen the disgruntled left-winger dealt to the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for three players is off the table — at least for now, according to Senators general manager Bryan Murray.
The US$4-million signing bonus the Sens had to pay Heatley has changed the terms of the deal.
“Well, it’s different now and I don’t know if we will continue or not,” Murray said Thursday. “I will, I believe, during the day talk to (Oilers GM) Steve Tambellini again, but very definitely, it’s not the same deal as it was yesterday.”
The Oilers had proposed sending forwards Andrew Cogliano and Dustin Penner and defenceman Ladislav Smid to Ottawa for Heatley, who refused to waive his no-trade contract.
Murray was blunt when asked where that leaves Heatley now.
“Nowhere, he’s an Ottawa Senator,” he said.
Just prior to the NHL draft last month, Heatley requested a trade out of Ottawa through his agents, J.P. Barry and Stacey McAlpine, citing his dissatisfaction over his diminished playing time and role with the club since Cory Clouston took over as coach in February.
With five years and $31 million remaining on his contract, with a salary-cap hit of $7.5 million per season, Murray is finding the 28-year-old tough to move.
He reached a deal with the Oilers late Tuesday, only to have Heatley nix it. Murray said he doesn’t know why Heatley wouldn’t agree to the trade.
The Oilers reportedly met with Heatley at his summer home in Kelowna, B.C., in order to sell him on the move, but Murray has no intention of following suit.
Murray said the teams’ original deal was no longer an option as a result of Ottawa being forced to pay out Heatley’s bonus and there are no other potential deals on the horizon.
“I think if you call around the league to the other general managers, you’ll find out there were many calls made, many options thrown out there, back and forth with teams. Not a lot of teams were interested in making an offer,” Murray said. “The few that did were, in a couple of cases, not very good. In one case, very insulting for Dany Heatley’s value.
“I took a deal that probably hockey-wise doesn’t match for Dany Heatley, but I thought it was fair to allow the player to have an opportunity to move if that’s what he wanted to do and we’d stock our team with a couple of players that we feel we can upgrade over the course of a year here.”
Murray admitted he’s frustrated by the player’s stance, but said it’s too early in the summer to think about what other options the Senators will have should they be unable to complete a trade.
“Certainly I’m disappointed,” he said. “There’s no question that there was a commitment made both ways a couple of years ago that Dany would be here for a long part of his career. He’s a good player, he’s a good guy — my reaction would be that he probably has not had the total advice that he’s need to be a committed guy to Ottawa.”
While Heatley has yet to public comment on the situation, Senators centre Jason Spezza spoke about it for the first time Thursday during a break from an off-ice workout at Scotiabank Place.
“It’s a complicated situation as players,” said Spezza. “I’m a good friend of Dany’s and if Dany wants to come back, we’re going to accept him back. But if he doesn’t want to be here, it’s just important for him to move on and for the organization to be able to make a trade to help the team move on.
“We just want to win here.”
Spezza has spoken with Heatley recently, but preferred to keep the conversations private.
“I understand (his reasons for wanting out), it’s part of the game and decisions have to be made. I don’t hold it against him at all,” said Spezza. “I just hope that this doesn’t stall our organization. We want to move forward. If he wants to come back, then we’ll accept him back and we’ll be a good team with him, but if he doesn’t want to be here, he has to let us (move) and get some players to replace him.”