Players would welcome Heatley back

SHANE ROSS, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:26 AM ET

Since we still haven’t heard from Dany Heatley about his trade demand, maybe it’s all just an unfortunate case of miscommunication.

Maybe he requested a maid or a blade.

Surely he meant to say his demotion to the second power-play unit was a “plum” decision by coach Cory Clouston.

Perhaps he was simply digging for a stubborn booger when he thumbed his nose at his fans and teammates.

We don’t know for sure. Heatley has not spoken to the media since his agent informed GM Bryan Murray of his desire to flee Ottawa almost a month ago.

He wasn’t expected to be at Jason Spezza’s charity golf tournament at the GreyHawk in Cumberland Monday — and he wasn’t.

So we can all assume it’s just a misunderstanding. Heatley adores — not abhors — Ottawa.

His teammates, at least the handful at the tournament, appear willing to welcome him back into the dressing room, no questions asked.

These just aren’t any teammates. They’re teammates who live in the city they call home, the city where Heatley can’t find a way to be happy despite making an average of $7.5 million US a season.

They are teammates like Chris Neil, who rejected more money elsewhere, including from the Maple Leafs, to sign a four-year, $8-million contract to stay with the Senators.

“I’m a guy who wants to be here, he doesn’t want to be here, so let him go somewhere else,” Neil said.

“If he ends up coming back, so be it, we’ll welcome him back with open arms. Whoever is putting that uniform on and going to war with you, you’re all on the same page, so him and Cory will work out their differences.”

Teammates like Chris Kelly and Sean Donovan ... okay, it’s doubtful they could get better money elsewhere, but at least they’re thankful.

“The hockey world’s pretty understanding, pretty forgiving,” said Kelly. “When you have a guy who can score 50 goals for your team, obviously you welcome him back. He’s been a great teammate in the past and I don’t think things would change.”

Teammates like rookie Jesse Winchester, who hasn’t forgotten that this time last year, he was just trying to make an impression at Senators’ development camp.

“I kind of stay out of it,” Winchester said. “He’s a great hockey player. If he ends up staying in Ottawa, we’ve got to work with him and hopefully put the past behind us.”

And, of course, teammates like Spezza, who has made his home in Westboro and is getting married in Notre Dame Cathedral at the end of the month. (Heatley has been invited to the wedding.)

“You have to look out for yourself and I’m sure that’s what’s going on,” Spezza said. “If Dany comes back, it’d be great to have him back, but if he doesn’t, we have to move on as a team.”

Okay, so nobody expected Heatley’s teammates to say in public — especially at a fun, happy charity golf tournament — that he’s a selfish player and a cancer on the team.

But there are rumours he likes shellfish and is the best dancer on the team.


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