Heatley vs. Melnyk: Court case soon
BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency
|Dany Heatley when he played for the Ottawa Senators, Oct. 3, 2007. (REUTERS/Mike Cassese)
Eugene Melnyk will finally face off with Dany Heatley in court once the two sides can agree on a date.
League sources confirmed Thursday, almost three years after filing a grievance to get the $4-million bonus the Senators owner paid to Heatley on July 1, 2009, the case is inching closer to being heard.
Independent arbitrator George Nicolau had agreed to a March 23 hearing in New York, but the date didn’t work for either side and is being rescheduled — soon.
As first reported by QMI Agency in November, 2009, Melnyk filed the grievance shortly after Heatley refused to lift his no-movement clause and accept a deal to the Edmonton Oilers (for Dustin Penner, Andrew Cogliano and Ladislav Smid).
Melnyk then had to write a $4-million cheque to his disgruntled player.
Sources say the grievance — which will be defended on Heatley’s behalf by the NHL Players Association — has taken this long to get to the arbitrator because there was a backlog in the number of cases. Once Nicolau has heard the case, he will have 30 days to hand down a ruling.
“I think Eugene Melnyk has a good case here,” said a league executive. “The decision by Heatley not to accept that deal not only cost (Melnyk) $4 million, it did a lot of damage to the franchise.”
Sources say in the filing, it is claimed that Heatley’s decision to kill the deal also hurt the team’s ability to sell season tickets and sponsorship packages.
The Senators insist that Heatley’s advisers — including former agent Stacey McAlpine and current representative J.P. Barry — gave GM Bryan Murray permission to speak with the Oilers and try to get a deal worked out.
When the trade to Edmonton was completed, Heatley refused to budge — even after Edmonton owner Daryl Katz flew to see meet with him at his Kelowna home ‚ and Murray was forced to find another trade. That took all summer to happen.
After reporting for training camp in September, 2009, Heatley was dealt to the Sharks. There’s a possibility the Sharks could be forced to pay the bonus if Heatley loses.
The Sharks were only willing to complete the deal with the Senators on July 2, the day after the bonus was paid. The Sharks dealt Heatley to the Minnesota Wild last summer.