Sens seal a big deal

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 11:48 AM ET

OTTAWA -- Dany Heatley was traded to the Ottawa Senators yesterday from the Atlanta Thrashers in exchange for Marian Hossa and defenceman Greg De Vries.

Just hours after Senators general manager John Muckler signed Hossa to a three-year, $18-million US contract to avoid an arbitration hearing, the club sent him packing to Atlanta and signed Heatley to a three-year, $13.5-million contract.

"I'm just ecstatic about getting to go to a team like Ottawa," Heatley told Sun Media last night from Kelowna, B.C.

"It's tough to leave a place like Atlanta, but I really felt at this point this was the best move for my career.

"With everything that has happened in Atlanta, I felt it would have been difficult for me to go back there. To get a chance to go to a Stanley Cup contender like the Senators is just great for me and something I'm really excited about."

Heatley only made his trade request to Atlanta GM Don Waddell two weeks ago.

Heatley simply needed to get away from the place where a Sept. 29, 2003, car crash took the life of teammate Dan Snyder.

Heatley was driving the car.

"The emotions that went with the accident, being here in the city, driving by the place where the accident happened and being reminded of it. Obviously we have 37, Dan Snyder's number, in our building," Waddell said.

"All of that led to Dany believing he needed a fresh start."

Heatley said he did a lot of soul-searching before making the request, but felt it was best.

"It's not easy to ask for a change of environment and it was difficult for me ... probably one of the toughest decisions I've ever made and I had to talk it over with my family," Heatley said.

"But I felt it was best for me and it was time to move forward and get a fresh start. I thought about it a lot. I didn't just wake up one day and decide that I wanted to be traded. A lot of time and energy went into this before I made the decision to go ahead with it.

"It's tough to leave a place like Atlanta -- especially because the organization was so good to me and they supported me -- but I am going to a great team and I have some friends on the team (Chris Phillips and Wade Redden).

"I am excited about that."

Muckler said discussions to acquire Heatley started two weeks ago.

"I got the call from Waddell and he explained the situation he had with Heatley in Atlanta," Muckler said.

Are you serious?

"He wanted to know what we were going to do about Hossa and thought we might have a fit. I phoned him back the next day to see if he was serious.

"We got a young player -- a goal scorer that we feel can help us -- and the Atlanta Thrashers got a terrific player in Marian Hossa. This is just the perfect trade because what it does is make both teams better."

Heatley was so excited about being dealt to the Senators he boarded a red-eye flight to Ottawa last night and will attend a press conference this afternoon.

"If you look around the league, there are a lot of different places I could have ended up," Heatley said.

"I don't think I could have asked for a better situation than Ottawa."


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