Heatley haunts Melnyk

Senators' owner Eugene Melnyk, left, says he's dished out $14M to Dany Heatley since fall 2008....

Senators' owner Eugene Melnyk, left, says he's dished out $14M to Dany Heatley since fall 2008. (Tony Caldwell/Ottawa Sun, Andre Forget/Sun Media)

CHRIS STEVENSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:27 AM ET

Eugene Melnyk is frustrated.

The Senators owner didn't like stroking a cheque for unhappy winger Dany Heatley, who received a $4-million (all terms US) lump-sum payment of his salary July 1, meaning Melnyk has shelled out $14 million since last fall for Heatley.

"For one year of play, 39 goals ... I have to stop thinking about it," Melnyk said on the Team 1200 yesterday.

But Melnyk said he and his hockey braintrust can't do much more now than sit back and let the Heatley situation play itself out.

Melnyk said he wishes Heatley's request to be traded hadn't become public, though it's still not clear exactly how word of his request leaked out.

"Whoever is handling this gave him some bad advice. It's the stupidest thing you can do, make this pronouncement and do it this way," said Melnyk. Heatley is represented by agents J.P. Barry and Stacey McAlpine.

They did not make the request public when it was communicated to Senators GM Bryan Murray June 4, but they have since confirmed Heatley asked to be traded.

The fact it became public is moot now. It is unlikely a deal to move a player of Heatley's stature could have been engineered without word getting around NHL circles that he had asked to be traded. It remains to be seen how public knowledge of the situation has affected the process other than to ignite a firestorm of criticism directed at Heatley by Senators fans.

"We've done everything to accommodate his request," said Melnyk. "At this point, we're sitting back and looking forward to hearing what he's got to say."

Melnyk said he knows there are rumours flying around saying there must be more to the situation than just friction between Heatley and coach Cory Clouston and unhappiness on Heatley's part in the direction the franchise is taking.

NO CONSPIRACY

"Everyone is looking for some conspiracy theory, but it's as simple as that," said Melnyk. "The bottom line is there is no real conspiracy. Everything you've seen and heard in the media is accurate."

Melnyk said a deal to send Heatley to the Oilers is still on the table, "but only for so long and after that his only option is to report to training camp."

Alex Kovalev was signed as a free agent Monday to a two-year, $10-million deal.

"We have to move on and we're moving on," said Melnyk. "We got an elite forward who can replace (Heatley). Either way, we're ready to go forward ... without Alex signing on, I might be nervous about our competitiveness. There will be nights when people will be in awe. (Kovalev) playing with (Jason) Spezza or alongside Alfie (Daniel Alfredsson), I think you're going to see magic."

CHRIS.STEVENSON@SUNMEDIA.CA


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