CALGARY – Jason Spezza says he’ll feel comfortable if estranged teammate Dany Heatley shows up at Ottawa Senators training camp next month.
Heatley asked the Senators in May to trade him and Ottawa has yet to make a deal. Heatley, the Sens assistant captain last season, says he’ll report to training camp if he hasn’t been moved, but remains firm that he wants out of Ottawa.
“I don’t think it will be awkward,” Spezza told reporters Monday as he arrived in Calgary for this week’s Olympic orientation camp.
“We’re athletes and used to ups and downs and different things happening. Amongst the players, it won’t be awkward. We’ll just have to deal with all you guys.”
Heatley made the request to be moved less than two years into a US$45-million, six-year contract extension. That did not endear him to Senators fans. That his request went public has been criticized as diminishing Ottawa’s bargaining power in a potential trade.
“Maybe how it came out and how it was handled probably wasn’t the best for our team,” Spezza conceded. “As it’s worked out, it hasn’t been the best for him either because it’s been a long, drawn-out saga, which nobody wanted.”
The Senators had a tentative deal worked out with Edmonton in June, but the 28-year-old winger refused to waive his no-trade clause to seal the deal.
Heatley, who arrived in Calgary on Sunday as one of 46 invitees to orientation camp, broke his silence on his desire late last week to defuse some of the attention that would have greeted his arrival.
Spezza and Heatley have been teammates and longtime linemates since Heatley was traded to Ottawa in 2005 from Atlanta. Spezza, a late addition to the Olympic camp roster, says he understands Heatley’s position, even if he doesn’t agree with it.
“Hopefully the team can accommodate him and we can just move on come training camp,” Spezza said. “It’s not my place to defend him. He’s making his decisions for a reason. He feels like Ottawa is not a good fit for him anymore and he has to stand by that.
“Obviously the reaction from people isn’t going to be favourable in Ottawa.”