Dany Heatley wants out of Ottawa because of what he says is his reduced role with the Senators, but the winger intends to report to training camp if the Sens can’t deal him.
The 28-year-old finally spoke about his desire to leave Ottawa after a summer of rampant speculation of his motives.
“When I signed in Ottawa two years ago, I felt it was to be an integral part of the team,” Heatley said Friday during a conference call. “Over the last two years and more recently over the past year, I feel my role was diminished. This past season, it diminished a lot more.
“I’m a player who can play in a lot of different situations. I don’t feel I was given that role on the team.
“I’d like the opportunity to go somewhere where I can play to the best of my capabilities and be the player I can be.”
Heatley held a press conference in Kelowna, B.C., where he lives in the off-season, following the conference call.
It’s possible the Calgary native would have remained silent on his situation if not for the Canadian men’s Olympic team orientation camp next week in Calgary.
Heatley is one of 46 players invited. Addressing the media defused the hubbub that would have accompanied his arrival for the start of camp Monday.
“We’re happy he did that so now when he comes to this camp, we’ll be able to move on,” Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson said Friday in Calgary. “I think it shows respect for Hockey Canada.”
Heatley told Senators general manager Bryan Murray back in May he wanted to be traded and the news leaked out about a month later.
The two-time 50-goal scorer for Ottawa did not endear himself to Senators fans by wanting out of Canada’s capital less than two years after signing a US$45-million, six-year contract extension. The Senators made him an assistant captain at the start of last season.
“I love the fans in Ottawa and I think it’s a great city and that’s why I signed long-term there,” Heatley said. “The reason I didn’t speak until now is simply because there’s process that has to take place.
“In all fairness to Ottawa and other teams involved, I didn’t feel it was necessary or purposeful to come out publicly and create more of a circus than it already was.”
Murray says he’s working to grant Heatley’s wish. He hasn’t given up on moving the disgruntled player despite a tentative deal with the Edmonton Oilers that fell through because Heatley would not waive his no-trade clause to go there.
“It’s been a frustrating time for us trying to find a place for him,” Murray said during his own conference call later Friday. “I heard him say he wants to be traded and we’ll continue to work with him in that area.”
Heatley and coach Corey Clouston did not warm to each other when Clouston took over for the fired Craig Hartsburg on Feb. 2. Heatley’s power-play time dropped after that.
But Heatley says he’ll report to Ottawa’s training camp if a deal isn’t done by then.
“I have a contract and I’m going to honour that contract,” he said. “If I’m still a Senator at training camp time, I’ll there ready to go.
“I think we know there’s other teams out there who are interested and hopefully something can get done. The request stands and I know there’s teams out there who are interested.”
Murray was less optimistic about other clubs’ interest in Heatley, saying there wasn’t more than two who were serious. Heatley comes with a hefty price tag as he counts $7.5 million toward the salary cap of $56.8 million next season.
“I was told by his people on several occasions that a team was quite interested and when I called that particular general manager that was suggested to me, it was just the opposite,” Murray explained. “They either had no money or would not give up a player that had been suggested to me.
“We’re not dragging our feet. If there was an adequate trade that would make Dany happy and the Ottawa Senators happy, I would have pursued it very hard.”
Murray kept the possibility open that Heatley could remain a Senator.
“There has to be some fence-mending I think with the players,” Murray said. “They have to know what frame of mind he’s in.
“I think if Dany was back and he and Cory just talked a little bit, I think he’d see where he fits and I think he’d be somewhat happy.”
Murray had a tentative deal worked out with the Edmonton Oilers in late June involving Oiler forwards Andrew Cogliano and Dustin Penner and defenceman Ladislav Smid.
Edmonton was not on the list of desired destinations Heatley had given Murray and he nixed the deal.
“It had nothing to do with Edmonton personally,” Heatley said. “I just wasn’t ready to make a decision at that time and I’m still not ready to make a decision until there are other options.
“To this date, there’s only been one option and I know there’s other teams out there.”
He’s coming off an off-year by his standards with 39 goals, 33 assists and a minus-11 rating in 82 games last season. That’s his lowest point total in four seasons with the Senators after he asked the Atlanta Thrashers to trade him in 2005.
The six-foot-four, 221-pound forward is effective in traffic and the slot with his size and laser shot.
Heatley doesn’t believe he’s developed a reputation as a malcontent and thus hurt Ottawa’s ability to deal him.
“I’ve been on a lot of teams with Team Canada and played with a lot of different players and a lot of different coaches,” he said. “Everyone I’ve played with or played for knows I’m a team guy and knows I’m a good teammate.
“I don’t worry about a question of my character. The two trades have been two totally different circumstances. Coming out of Atlanta was a life decision and an off-ice thing. This trade is purely hockey.”
In 2005, Heatley pleaded guilty to four of six charges of vehicular homicide and was sentenced to three years probation. He was the driver of a vehicle that crashed Sept. 29, 2003, killing teammates and friend Dan Snyder.