Heatley big on Hossa

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:28 AM ET

PITTSBURGH -- Dany Heatley would have no problem with the Senators bringing back Thrashers winger Marian Hossa for a run to the Stanley Cup final.

The all-star winger may have been dealt for Hossa in August 2005, but Heatley told the Sun yesterday that he would welcome Hossa if Ottawa makes a deal with Atlanta by Tuesday's NHL trade deadline.

"I think the media has tried to make it more like it's a strange thing. I've never had a problem with (Hossa). I get along with him pretty well. I've played in the all-star game with him a couple of times and I've gotten along with him on and off the ice," said Heatley.

PURELY A RENTAL

"He's a good player. He could be a big help to this team. This year, he got off to a slow start with injuries, and this year when he's been healthy, there's been times where he's been dominant. He's such a strong skater and he's so strong on the puck, he could definitely help."

The Senators are still in contention to land Hossa, but they're certainly not alone. The Habs, Sharks, Wings, Ducks, Canucks, Rangers and Bruins have all made pitches for Hossa, who is believed to have turned down a final contract offer from Atlanta GM Don Waddell yesterday.

Sources say while Hossa would purely be a rental for the Senators, Wings and Rangers, the Habs, Sharks, Canucks and Bruins have told Waddell they want a chance to negotiate a contract with the Slovak before making a deal.

GM Bryan Murray, who attended the GMs' meetings in Naples, Fla., joined the Senators in Pittsburgh.

Murray was expected to sit down with assistant GM Tim Murray, director of hockey operations Brent Flahr, coach John Paddock and the rest of the coaching staff last night to decide what direction the struggling team is going to take at the deadline.

The Senators would like to add a scoring forward and a defenceman at the deadline.

Hossa would be joined on the forward list by the Lightning's Vaclav Prospal, another former Senator.

On the blue line the Senators, are looking at Dan Boyle (Tampa), an Ottawa native, and Brian Campbell (Buffalo), a former 67's star.

NEIL OUT LONG TERM?

In an unexpected twist, the Senators might also have to consider adding a gritty forward now that winger Chris Neil is expected to be out for an extended period of time after suffering an injury on Thursday against the Blue Jackets. His status won't be determined until the swelling in his right knee goes down.

Losing Neil, who was injured near the boards when he went to hit Columbus centre Jiri Novotny, is a tough blow.

Neil hasn't produced much offensively this season, but he plays every game with an edge, is willing to fight and generally keeps opposition players honest.

Neil's injury may reignite the Senators' interest in pesky Chicago forward Tuomo Ruutu.


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