Melnyk glad Heatley's gone

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:11 AM ET

OTTAWA - Breaking his silence yesterday, Senators owner Eugene Melnyk admitted he felt betrayed by Dany Heatley and is glad the winger is gone.

After demanding a trade in May, Heatley was finally dealt to the San Jose Sharks for Milan Michalek and Jonathan Cheechoo last month.

While Melnyk wants to put the controversy behind the Senators, who open the season tomorrow in New York against the Rangers, he conceded the situation left a "sour taste" in his mouth and would advise anybody against signing players to front-end-loaded, long-term contracts.

After signing Heatley to a six-year, $45-million contract extension in October 2007, and shelling out more than $14 million to him in the last 12 months -- including a whopping $4-million bonus on July 1 -- Melnyk found it disrespectful.

"I spoke directly across the table, with (Heatley) and his agents," said Melnyk. "When you make that type of commitment to a player where you front-end load a contract, you expect, just as a human being, when you shake somebody's hand -- never mind a 130-page contract -- that they will be reciprocal to it. That's my biggest disappointment: These people, I mean just as human beings, (shouldn't) do that to anyone.

"Yes, it has left a sour taste, but you've got to forget about that. You turn around, you learn from it and you'll never do it again. I guarantee you, anybody else out there should be aware this can happen to (them) if the other side is not genuine."

Melnyk believes Heatley's actions set a bad precedent for all sports.

'He hurt himself'

"That whole situation sent shivers not only through every GM and owner in the hockey world, but in sports in general," said Melnyk. "This is the worst thing that could happen to a team that wants to progress. He hurt himself. He hurt all his teammates. He hurt the organization.

"I don't necessarily put the blame on him directly, but I think it's the people around him that leaked it out. That's a disaster.

"It's unconscionable what happened. You have to hand it to Bryan. Working with handcuffs, he was able to pull off a good deal. We made the best out of what was a bad situation. I'm glad it's done, over with and out the door. Wish (him) luck. If there's anything good that came out of this, it's toughened up our team. We have more of a 'we'll show you' attitude and I think they'll come together as a real team now and show their stuff."

Melnyk gave his blessing when Murray told him he was stepping up efforts to move the disgruntled Heatley on the first day of training camp.

"I'm not there, but even if I was there, Bryan, the coach and the players have to live and breathe this every day," said Melnyk. "What we don't need is a distraction of any sort and I don't care how good you are.

"I don't care if you're a 50-goal scorer. If you've got that kind of person in the dressing room, those 50 goals will be meaningless if it's going to affect all the players. Now, it's a nice, clean start."


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