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Senators say there's nothing imminent on Heatley

by Shawn P. Roarke
MONTREAL -- According to the Ottawa Senators, there is nothing imminent on the Dany Heatley trade front.

Assistant General Manager Tim Murray said Thursday that no serious offers for the services of Heatley had surfaced yet, despite published reports to the contrary.

Ottawa executive vice-president and general manager Bryan Murray is shopping Heatley after the sniper told the team during the Stanley Cup Final that he would like to be moved.

"I think there is a lot of tire-kicking going on," Tim Murray said. "It doesn't sound serious and then a team calls and makes a serious offer, which could happen at any time. Lots of discussions; I know that Bryan has talked to a number of teams. It doesn't seem like there is a serious offer there right at this moment."

Heatley has demanded a trade, citing philosophical differences with coach Cory Clouston, who took over the team from Craig Hartsburg on Feb. 2. Ottawa went 19-11-4 under the hard-driving Clouston.

But it appears that Clouston's ways did not sit well with Heatley, who reportedly cited his non-rapport with the coach as one reason for wanting a change of scenery. Heatley's request for a trade and the reasons behind it came as a surprise to Clouston, who spoke publicly about the situation for the first time Thursday.

"My first reaction was surprised, disappointed," Clouston said. "Then you realize you have to move forward. We realize that whatever his reasons are, we have to do what is best for the organization."

That means Heatley is in play here in Montreal as executives from all 30 teams descend upon this city for this weekend's NHL Entry Draft. There is speculation that Ottawa would like to get the deal done here, especially if it involves a high-level draft pick. Plus, there is a $4 million bonus payable on July 1 that's also in play.

But Tim Murray cautioned that the Sens will not be bullied into making a deal this weekend. He says it will have to make hockey sense -- and if that doesn't come about, the team will expect Heatley to report to training camp in mid-September and honor his contract.

"I think Bryan has said right from the start that if it is a deal we are comfortable with hockey-wise, ideally before the Draft would be great," he said. "But we're certainly not going to make a deal just because the Draft is approaching or July 1 is approaching."

Heatley has four seasons left on a six-year, $45 million contract. Despite that hefty price tag, he should be in great demand.

In what many consider an off year, Heatley still had 39 goals and 72 points for the Sens. In his first three seasons with the team, he scored 50 goals twice and had 41 in 2007-08. That type of offensive production always generates interest.

Heatley's outburst is the first true crisis for Clouston, who seemed to bring energy and focus to an Ottawa team that was foundering badly before his arrival in February. But Clouston says he is not worried about the fallout from losing one of his best players after a perceived spat with the coach.

He said he is fine with the idea that he will be painted as the scapegoat by some fans, saying it comes with the coaching territory.

"The biggest concern I have is the dressing room," Clouston said. "They have been here a lot longer than I have, and they worked hard and worked together. For myself to be the scapegoat, I have no problem with that. Again, I believe what we did was right, and that's the bottom line."

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