Melnyk takes digs at Dany

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:08 AM ET

Senators owner Eugene Melnyk served notice to Dany Heatley: Get ready for training camp -- in Ottawa.

Melnyk, in an interview yesterday with Toronto radio station The Fan 590, also said the deal to send the disgruntled winger to the Oilers is dead.

"Right now, he's an Ottawa Senator. We expect him to fulfill his contract as we have ours," said Melnyk, who "bit his tongue" and cut a $4-million cheque to Heatley as the July 1 deadline to trade him or pay him part of his contract passed.

"He's coming to training camp. That's the bottom line."

Melnyk said the Senators will let the dust settle after the fiasco with the Oilers. There haven't been any trade discussions since the deal with Edmonton was put on hold Thursday.

"Right now, I don't think anything is happening at all," said Melnyk. "We have a situation where we had an offer from Edmonton. Since then, we've paid out $4 million (all terms US) in advance of this coming season. I've left it in (GM Bryan Murray's) hands.

"We're kind of in no-man's land. This is unprecedented. We're in uncharted waters."

While Melnyk has been letting his hockey people handle the Heatley trade, he has been informed of everything that is happening. He stayed up until midnight both Tuesday and Wednesday to see if Heatley would accept the deal.

Melnyk isn't sure why Heatley didn't leave.

"How far can you go? I mean you get the (Oilers) president (Kevin Lowe) and the GM (Steve Tambellini) flying out to (Kelowna, B.C.) to see him. What's wrong with Edmonton? The organization is putting itself out. You can't have your cake and eat it too," said Melnyk.

Melnyk was also upset with accusations by Heatley's agents that the Senators didn't give Heatley more options.

USED UP 29 HELPLINES

"The only thing that really inflames you is the suggestion by agents Stacey McAlpine and J.P. Barry is that Bryan didn't work hard enough to try to get the trade done," said Melnyk.

"You know that show, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? (Murray) did 29 'phone-a-friend' helplines. That's the equivalent. He called everybody.

"He did multiple calls, multiple calls and multiple calls. What he came up with was a deal at the end.

"I've never seen something like this in my life. Somebody says, 'I want to be traded, but you got me a trade, and I don't want to be traded there.' "

While Melnyk didn't consider withholding the $4-million payment, there is a strong belief he is going to look at his legal options to try to get the money back if Heatley is traded. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly confirmed the league has given Melnyk legal advice.

"When I do a deal, whether it's on a napkin, a handshake or a 150-page document, it doesn't matter," said Melnyk. "I stick to my word. I stick to my signature. I stick to my handshake. You go ahead and do it and you expect the other side to be there because you have done your part of the bargain.

"You just bite your tongue and you sign that cheque. You just let it play out."

Sens ice chips

Melnyk was happy to keep RW Chris Neil in the fold, even if it cost $8 million over four years. "This is a guy that wants to be here," said Melnyk ... The Senators are studying the free-agent market, but their options are limited with $51 million tied up in salaries for next season -- including Heatley's $7.5-million cap hit ... One player the Senators almost certainly won't bring back is unrestricted free-agent C Mike Comrie, who made $4 million last season. Comrie simply won't fit into the club's tight budget.

BRUCE.GARRIOCH@SUNMEDIA.CA


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