Heats: 'I love (Ottawa)'

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 6:33 AM ET

TORONTO -- Even before he stepped onto the ice against the Maple Leafs last night, Dany Heatley had already scored big.

The all-star winger agreed to the biggest contract in Senators' history last night -- a deal worth $45 million US over six years. He will be paid $5 million, with a $5-million bonus next season.

In 2009-10, he will get $4 million and a $4-million bonus. In each of 2010-11 and 2011-12, he will be paid $8 million. He will make $6 million in 2012-13 and $5 million in 2013-14.

Senators owner Eugene Melnyk and GM Bryan Murray made the deal with Heatley's agents J.P. Barry and Stacey McAlpine just hours before the puck was dropped at the Air Canada Centre.

"I've really enjoyed my two years in Ottawa," said Heatley. "I love the city, the fans and the organization. I'm just thrilled and happy we were able to get it done before the start of the season."

Heatley had set a deadline of last night to either get a contract completed or hold off on discussions until the end of the season.

"We're very pleased," said Murray. "(Mr. Melnyk) preaches, 'We want to continue to have a good team. Do what you can to make that happen.' That helps a great deal."

While contract talks were called off at 11 p.m. Tuesday after Melnyk and Murray weren't willing to meet Heatley's terms, discussions resumed after the two sides had a chance to sit back and assess their positions.

It's believed the biggest stumbling block was the term of the contract because Melnyk and Murray were originally trying to get a five-year deal worth $35 million.

"Negotiating is supposed to be give and take. That's what happened, said Murray.

The Senators GM said the six-year deal does involve some risk, but feels that Heatley, who is making $4.5 million this season, will live up to the club's expectations. This deal is 'front-end' loaded to minimize the cap hit for the Senators down the road.

ALWAYS A GAMBLE

"There's a gamble with everything you do in hockey. Dany Heatley is 26 years old," said Murray. "I have no concern about Dany Heatley and the length of the contract at all ... I can tell you: He's going to be here a lot longer than me."

Murray signed centre Mike Fisher to a five-year deal at the start of camp and hopes to keep restricted free agent centre Jason Spezza. Murray has also stated he wants to keep Wade Redden in Ottawa.

"I hope they all know we care a great deal and there's a commitment on the part of the owner to keep it together the best we can," said Murray. "I think Dany was really motivated to stay in Ottawa. He said he was happy there and wanted to stay."


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