Sens owner 'disappointed'

JON WILLING, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:56 AM ET

PETAWAWA -- When Dany Heatley asked the Senators to trade him, it must have felt like a slap in the face to owner Eugene Melnyk.

"The only thing I can say is it is disappointing," Melnyk told reporters yesterday during a Hockey Canada event at the army base celebrating Canada's world junior victory. "We committed to a long-term contract and moved players and did everything we could, so the best way to describe it is disappointment at this point."

Melnyk and GM Bryan Murray worked together to sign the star winger to a lucrative six-year contract extension before the start of the 2007-2008 season. Now Heatley wants out, leaving the Senators looking for a worthwhile trade sooner than later. Heatley is due to collect a $4-million (all terms US) bonus from the team tomorrow.

Melnyk said he's leaving Heatley's future in Murray's hands.

SEEMED ALL RIGHT

"We're obviously on the phone. We'll be on the phone (yesterday) afternoon and getting an update as to where we are. We'll see what happens over the next 48 hours," Melnyk said.

Melnyk said the last time he spoke with Heatley was right after the season ended. Heatley said nothing about wanting to be traded.

Melnyk acknowledged the inevitability of losing Heatley and what it means for a team that finished 23rd in scoring in 2008-09.

"Dany is an elite player," Melnyk said. "You've got a 50-goal scorer that you're not going to have potentially and that has to be somehow replaced, but it's a resilient team, it's a great team. I can't say anything but good words about (coach) Cory Clouston and we'll just continue on. You saw us play toward the end of the year and I think we can't wait to get back."

'EXCITING WEEK'

The importance of the next few days, considering Heatley's looming bonus and the beginning of free agency tomorrow, wasn't lost on Melnyk.

"It's going to be a fairly exciting week," he said.

Melnyk said Murray will have "free reign" to manage the salary cap and make decisions to fill the gaps on the roster, which could use another scoring threat if Heatley is dealt.

One team that could use more firepower up front is the Oilers, now coached by Pat Quinn, who was also in Petawawa yesterday to celebrate his world junior hockey championship with Melnyk.

Quinn, who coached the juniors to gold, said he's still examining the make-up of the Oilers' roster after landing the coaching gig last month.

"I think we'll have to improve from within this first year and we'll see what happens after that," Quinn said.


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