September 14, 2009
Heatley kept issues personalLeft without telling Sens what bothered him
By DON BRENNAN, SUN MEDIA
The Senators have heard all the whispers, innuendos and ugly rumours.
And they're not buying any of it.
If Dany Heatley really did have legitimate personal issues pushing his demand for a trade, he left town without telling them what they were. And so his teammates said goodbye to Heatley knowing only that the former 50-goal scorer was unhappy in Ottawa and believing the primary reason was what he felt was a diminished role with the club.
"We didn't talk about not returning phone calls," Daniel Alfredsson said yesterday after his first practice of the 2009-10 season -- referring to the fact Heatley didn't get back to him when the captain tried to make contact during No. 15's Summer of Angst. "We asked him about what's bothering him. What can we do. We didn't get a full answer. He said it was a hockey decision that was the biggest thing, then there was other stuff. That is where he left it."
Chris Phillips, who joined Alfredsson for a breakfast meeting with Heatley on Friday, said he doesn't feel he or the other Senators were owed an explanation for his friend's urgent desire to bolt.
"He said he was unhappy and we didn't push him on that," said Phillips. "That's how he felt. He wasn't happy. I don't think there was one thing or two things. There was a lot of factors that added to that, and at the end of the day, he wasn't happy and there wasn't any one thing we were going to be able to do to change that.
"I think it was in everyone's best interest that a deal did happen."
After presiding over his first NHL training camp as coach, Cory Clouston agreed.
Clouston said there was no tension in his brief meeting with Heatley -- they bumped into each other, shook hands and chatted for a couple of minutes in the Scotiabank parking lot when Clouston was headed to the team's charity golf tournament Friday, but did not cross paths again before the next day's trade.
"I think it was good for everybody," Clouston said of the deal. "I think more importantly, it's good for the dressing room, it's good for the players, just to not have that hanging over their head.
"We wish him all the best and hopefully it will work out for him. We're very positive it will work out definitely in our situation.
"We're looking to the future and that's behind us."
No. 27 on 1927
W Alex Kovalev expressed some excitement in starting his 18th NHL training camp.
"There's nothing better than winning the Stanley Cup," said the former Hab, who inherits the Senators' No. 27 jersey previously worn by the likes of Randy Robitaille, Peter Schaefer, Todd Simpson, Dennis Bonvie, Ricard Persson and Janne Laukkanen. "When's the last time this team won the Stanley Cup? '27? I remember how exciting it was winning the Stanley Cup in New York after 54 years. Imagine how exciting it would be after ... I can't even count. I'm really looking forward and want to be successful with this team."
Kovalev didn't waste time in speaking his mind on the ice conditions at Scotiabank Place. Asked how he felt after his first practice with his new team, he said: "Pretty good, but the ice wasn't as good as we expected. That's what usually happens the first few practices, so I'm sure every day it's going to get better. The way I look at it, we did good on bad ice and we're going to do really good on good ice.
"Overall it's going to be important the next few days to skate and get in game shape. Games are coming up really quick. I feel pretty good."
When asked about his goals and proving himself in the upcoming season, Kovalev quipped: "I've been pro-rating myself for 17 years. I have nothing else to prove. I'm just going to come out and do my best and help the team."
The most popular word at SBP yesterday was "depth," as it appears the Senators now have some up front. The additions of Milan Michalek and Jonathan Cheechoo gives them eight forwards (the two former Sharks, plus Alfredsson, Kovalev, Jason Spezza, Mike Fisher, Nick Foligno and Ryan Shannon) who are used to top-two line ice time.
"We did that a little bit (Saturday night)," Clouston smiled when asked about fiddling with line combinations. "Until they get here and put them in practices ... camp is time for a little bit of experimentation. You have a couple of young guys that may not be with us in a few days, so the lines aren't going to be carved in stone right now.
"Over the next four or five days and going in to next week, we'll definitely try to solidify some lines and create some chemistry."
Foligno, who is listed on the depth chart at centre, was skating with Spezza and Alfredsson. It's a spot he'd like to reserve.
"I'm not going to read too much into that, but I want to be in that rank," he said. "We'll see how it plays out in training camp, but I want to be considered in that mix. It was fun to skate with those guys."
Still a hit
If the first day of camp was any indication, D Anton Volchenkov has been itching for some body contact. He caught Kovalev with a check that put his fellow Russian on the ice during the afternoon drills.
"He knocked me over once, too," said Phillips. "I wasn't expecting it."