Sens coach finally speaks

Senators head coach Cory Clouston said he challenged Dany Heatley to compete harder last season....

Senators head coach Cory Clouston said he challenged Dany Heatley to compete harder last season. (Sun Media/Andre Forget)

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:17 AM ET

MONTREAL -- When Dany Heatley's trade demand became public, Cory Clouston kept his lips zipped.

Until yesterday.

The Senators coach says he wouldn't change the way he treated Heatley. For a team to be successful, Clouston says, everybody, Heatley included, has to buy into the team concept.

"The biggest concern I have is the dressing room," said Clouston. "They've been here a lot longer than I have and they've worked hard and were very close to winning a Stanley Cup and all of a sudden, this happens.

"For myself to be painted as the scapegoat, that's fine. I believe we did what was right for the team. No organization will win unless you have that team concept and team focus. For the most part, we did that. That's what we're going to preach for the rest of the summer and going into next season."

The Senators hope they can put the Heatley scenario behind them before they make the No. 9 selection in tonight's NHL draft. The talk was heating up, but the indications are teams are still "kicking tires" -- not what GM Bryan Murray wants at this stage.

Sources told Sun Media the St. Louis Blues, Edmonton Oilers, Colorado Avalanche, Vancouver Canucks, San Jose Sharks, Minnesota Wild, Dallas Stars, L.A. Kings and N.Y. Rangers have all made pitches. The Canucks, Kings and Rangers were on the wishlist Heatley submitted to Ottawa.

While the Kings, Canucks and Wild are considered the most serious contenders, the Rangers, looking to unload Scott Gomez, are also anxious to make a deal.

"We're not giving him away because he's made the demand to be traded," said Senators assistant GM Tim Murray. "It has to be a good hockey deal or it's not going to get done. If that doesn't happen, we'll just assume that on Sept. 14, he'll show up to training camp, be part of our team and go forward."

Clouston said he challenged Heatley to compete harder.

PLAY AS A TEAM

"Nothing different (was asked) than from the rest of the team. You want to see consistency in effort, consistency in practice and to play a team game," said Clouston. "All you have to do is look at the Stanley Cup final to see what can be accomplished when you play as a team.

"Those teams played very well. Not only did the star players put pucks in the net, they were committed to a team game by blocking shots, finishing checks and playing well defensively. That's what we wanted to do as a whole. Not just one individual, but as a team."

Clouston said he spoke with Heatley before the trade request was made.

"I talked to Dany once and it was a pretty decent conversation. There wasn't any animosity between the two of us, which I think is a positive thing. Since then, I haven't spoken to him," said Clouston. "The one area (he wanted to see more) was just consistency. When Dany is moving his feet and playing his game, he's one of the best players in the NHL."


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