Clouston: All is not forgiven

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:00 AM ET

If Dany Heatley remains with the Senators, coach Cory Clouston is ready to make things work -- on his terms.

As the players prepare to report for medicals tomorrow at Scotiabank Place, Clouston is mindful of the challenge of getting the Senators back to respectability while dealing with the unhappy Heatley still a part of the team.

While Heatley complained his role "diminished" under Clouston after Craig Hartsburg was fired with 34 games left in the season, Clouston is going to try to keep the distraction to a minimum while GM Bryan Murray tries to deal the two-time 50-goal scorer.

Clouston, who had 19-11-4 record after being hired in early February, admitted the start of training camp isn't going to be easy with Heatley still in town and unwilling to back off on his trade demand.

"I don't think it's possible to put everything behind. It's an ongoing process," said Clouston. "There's going to be questions (about Heatley) throughout camp, throughout the start of the season, so I don't think it's something you can put a period on it and it's over and done with.

"It's going to be an ongoing situation. We're going to go through some ups and downs."

Clouston believes the players can draw from their experiences with former goaltender Ray Emery and the current issue with Heatley to pull together as a group.

"I want everyone to learn from (these incidents)," said Clouston. "I want everyone to use those incidents and situations, where maybe individuals got off the team path and off the road and kind of got off on their own page, and (realize) how destructive it can become.

"When you play together as a team, there's no question you are individuals, but you play a team sport. So you always want to succeed as an individual, but the team goals have to coincide with that. When those two aren't on the same page, that's when you get fractions and that's when you get situations where you're not playing to your potential as a team.

"That's our whole goal is to get everybody back on board. I think we started to do that (when he came in last year), than was happening previously and our record showed it. We are capable of playing together as a team and having success."

Clouston maintained he's not anxious about Heatley being in the dressing room.

"It just presents different challenges. It's what you do with those challenges," said Clouston. "I know it's a cliche, but it's so true, we can use some of this adversity to bring this group of guys together and closer. That's the way we're looking it and we're going to approach it.

"To me, this only reiterates how important the team concept is. We're going to use to try and create a team identity and a team concept."

It might not be a difficult sell job since Clouston can draw upon the success the Senators had late last season. He said much of "the foundation" was laid during his short stint as coach and now the club can work to instil his system.

"This is going to be easier for everybody as far as familiarity goes," said Clouston. "This doesn't mean anyone is comfortable, but they know me a little bit more and vice-versa. (Training camp) is going to allow us to establish what we want a lot more.

"You're not under the gun. There wasn't a whole time (last year) where we ever had more than two practices in a row. Everything is rushed and you're trying to make so many changes and do so many little things, you kind of run out of time. You're able to implement a lot more from the start (of training camp)."


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