Melnyk won't chase Nash
BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency
|Columbus Blue Jackets' Rick Nash handles the puck during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Calgary Flames in Calgary last March. (REUTERS)
OTTAWA - Blue Jackets winger Rick Nash might be ready to expand his list of acceptable destinations, but the Senators have no interest in playing second fiddle.
Owner Eugene Melnyk told the Sun in an exclusive e-mail Tuesday night he has no issue with spending money, however, he only wants players who want to play in Ottawa.
GM Bryan Murray confirmed Sunday he has cut off talks with the Jackets because Ottawa isn’t on Nash’s original list, but there was speculation Tuesday that could change if Columbus GM Scott Howson doesn’t deal him by mid-July.
Nash can pretty much rule out the Senators because Melnyk, without naming names, said he isn’t going to bring players to Ottawa who don’t want to be here.
“Yes, we want to make our team better — always — but never with a player unless we are on the ‘A’ list,” Melnyk wrote late Tuesday. “I believe, and I think our fans would echo this, it is a privilege to play in Ottawa.
“You want more money? A bigger car or house? Lots of other teams will spend like idiots. We are a true TEAM with REAL special and smart fans. I don’t care who you are, you have to WANT to play in Ottawa. That’s what defines us.”
The Columbus Post-Dispatch reported nobody had gone further in trade discussions with the Jackets than the Senators. Sources say the club offered winger Nick Foligno, prospect Mika Zibanejad and goaltender Robin Lehner.
Sources also told the Sun the Jackets wanted top prospect Mark Stone as part of the package. The Senators weren’t prepared to do that.
But, the Senators were serious — and honest — in their pursuit of Nash. Melnyk was ready to approve Nash’s $7.8-million cap hit through 2017-18 if he was willing to accept a trade to Ottawa to play alongside centre Jason Spezza.
The discussions went sideways last weekend because Nash told the Jackets he is steadfast in his refusal to come here. Sources say he’d like to be dealt to the Sharks or Rangers. He may consider Toronto.
Though Nash has put a gun to the head of the Columbus organization, Howson hasn’t changed his demands. He not only wants prospects, but players who can help right away.
What has to be a major concern for the Jackets is this situation is becoming eerily similar to the one the Senators faced with Dany Heatley during the summer of 2009.
The Senators went a step further than the Jackets did. Murray completed a deal which would have sent Heatley to the Oilers before a $4-million bonus kicked in on July 1, only to have Heatley reject the trade.
In that circumstance, the Senators had been told by one of Heatley’s former agents (Stacey McAlpine) that Edmonton was on his list. Then, Murray was informed after the deal was made Heatley had to be given more options.
The bottom line is Heatley wanted to go to the Sharks all along and held the Senators hostage until the deal was made that September.
It would appear to be similar to what Nash is trying to manoeuvre.
It’s easy for both sides to play hardball. It’s July. No rush. Camp isn’t scheduled to open until mid-September, the rosters don’t have to be set and there isn’t any sense of urgency for the Jackets to get a deal done.
Nash doesn’t get the fact Ottawa would have been a good landing spot for him. He’d lend scoring support to Spezza, get plenty of ice time and would be a productive player. That can all be ruled out now.
Melnyk said teams might be spending crazy money, but fans can rest-assured Murray and his staff are making the right moves to make the club successful again next season.
“Ignore the nonsense going on around us,” Melnyk said. “I’ll take our young, hungry, awesome talent and proven hard-working veterans anytime.”
The possibility of Nash is no longer in the picture.
THIS ’N’ THAT
The Senators added some toughness Tuesday, signing minor-league forward Hugh Jessimen to a two-way contract. He will play in Binghamton, but has had 21 AHL fights over the last two years and amassed 699 PIMs in 432 AHL games. Jessimen was a first-round bust of the Rangers in 2003 ... Some teams have interest in UFA C Jesse Winchester, but he’s going to have to be patient.