|Sens president Cyril Leeder said this morning the team is taking a financial hit in part due to the controversy surrounding Dany Heatley. (Sun Media file)
The controversy surrounding disgruntled winger Dany Heatley is having an impact on Senators ticket sales.
During a breakfast meeting at City Hall this morning, Ottawa Senators president and CEO Cyril Leeder confirmed that the ongoing saga of Heatley's trade request is hurting the organization at the box office.
"Yes," Leeder said, when asked if there is a correlation between slow tickets sales and the difficulty the Senators are having with trading Heatley. "Some people have outright said, 'we are not renewing our tickets.' "
Leeder couldn't quantify how much money the club has lost, but "It does have an impact,".
Leeder said the Heatley situation isn't the only factor that is translating into financial woes for the Senators this season. The recession and the fact the hockey team failed to make the playoffs last season for the first time in a decade is also adding to the financial pressure.
Leeder did say that, after a weak April for season ticket renewals, ticket sales did pick up in August.
"It's the worst April we've had," said Leeder, though disappointment with the team missing the playoffs was certainly the key factor at that time.
Agreements the club has with advertisers and other sponsors are also taking a lot longer to sign.
"In every agreement it's taking a long time," he said. "It's usually a sign people have issues."
However, the Senators might not have to wait much longer to rid themselves of Heatley.
Two league executives told Sun Media this week they've heard talk the Senators, Sharks and Kings have discussed a three-way deal that would send Heatley to San Jose, centre Jarret Stoll and winger Alexander Frolov to Ottawa and centre Patrick Marleau to the Kings.
Senators GM Bryan Murray confirmed he talked to several teams Tuesday, but said there isn't anything in place.
Heatley will also have to explain the situation to his teammates and Leeder said team captain Daniel Alfredsson will likely have more to say about the situation in coming days.
"He's more than just a captain. It's like having a second coach," said Leeder. "He wants to win, be ready for the season and how to make sure this is not a distraction."