'What are you doing?'

Eugene Melnyk says other NHL owners have acknowledged to him how the Sens have been

Eugene Melnyk says other NHL owners have acknowledged to him how the Sens have been "burned" by Dany Heatley. (Sun Media file)

DON BRENNAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:10 AM ET

In a closed door, face-to-face, no-strangling-or-knees-to-the-groin-allowed meeting, Senators owner Eugene Melnyk would almost certainly have a few colourful words for his highest-paid employee.

But yesterday, when asked what message he'd like to pass along to Demanding Dany Heatley, all he could think of is the same question the rest of the hockey world has for the winger.

"I have no idea what I'd say," Melnyk started, when speaking to a media scrum at Scotiabank Place after an online forum for Senators fans.

And then, with a tone of disgust, added: "I'd just say, 'What are you doing? Whoever gave you that advice?'

"I wouldn't even know what to say to the guy."

Quite evident is Melnyk's frustration with Heatley, who in early June asked the Senators to trade him because he feels his role with the team has diminished, then later flexed his no-trade clause because he didn't want to go to Edmonton.

In providing an update on trade talks yesterday, GM Bryan Murray said he has not heard from the one GM (San Jose's Doug Wilson maybe?) he was hopeful would make him a satisfactory offer in more than a week.

Murray added that he's not optimistic a deal will get done before the Sept. 12 opening of training camp -- and that he will soon stop trying to initiate one.

"I think we have to fairly soon make a statement or declaration that, if we're not going to get a deal done, Dany is coming back to training camp and to the Senators," said Murray. "I'd like the players and coaches to know that we have a certain group of people coming in."

While he spoke of implementing a cutoff date to trade talks, it would also be foolish to think Murray would write the deadline in stone.

If another team is prepared to meet what should be a hefty pricetag for a guy who will be playing his heart out for a roster spot on Canada's Olympic team, Murray would be willing to talk turkey.

"I keep trying, I keep talking, but we don't seem to be going very far," said Murray. "This has been going on since before the draft. A couple of teams have indicated some interest. But we've never been able to even get what I would consider an offer I could even consider. So for the moment, I'm not very optimistic.

"I'm trying to accommodate a wish of a player. When I first heard about this, I said I would try, I wouldn't promise anything to them. I've done that. I probably would be wise to put a deadline within a day or so, then stop trying. But I've got to do at least what's best for the organization, and that is continue to work at it and hope something falls in place that we like."

Meanwhile, just as Heatley has promised he will report to camp if he has not been dealt, he has also sidestepped the question of whether it would be with 'A' in hand. Neither Murray or coach Cory Clouston has said whether Heatley would be asked to turn over his assistant captain's letter, either, but yesterday Murray made clear his expectations.

"To me leadership is the people who wear the 'A', " he said. "And I would suggest probably Cory and Dany would mutually agree that this hasn't been the case so far."

Melnyk said other NHL owners have acknowledged to him how the Senators have been "burned" by Heatley.

"It's not unusual for somebody to ask for a trade," he said, before seemingly referring to Heatley's conference call with the national media Aug. 21.

"But what's unprecedented is somebody that comes out and actually says, 'I want to be traded.' Period. These kind of things just don't make sense to me.

"But look, it's a crazy world out there. I have no idea why they did it the way they did it. All they did was hurt themselves and the organization."

Asked if he even wants a guy who has basically told the organization he wants no part of it, Melnyk said the players are professionals and can "block things out."

"If there are no other options, look, he's a 50-goal scorer," said Melnyk. "If he can put 50 pucks in the net for us, I'd want him back.

"The best solution is to get a solution. I'm just hoping it sorts itself out fairly quickly.

"Bryan is in a very difficult position. There are players being traded and opportunities we're missing. We've got cap issues ... we just want to move on and get it over with, one way or the other.

"Certainly it's put a stranglehold on Bryan's ability to be flexible and do trades. Even at the draft. We could have had an opportunity to move up and it didn't happen. If anything, it's been a distraction, and we don't need the kind of distractions we've had in the past.

"We just want to play hockey and have a great team and great team spirit."


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