|Ottawa Senators centre Jason Spezza says his linemate and good friend Dany Heatley would be accepted back into the team's dressing room if his trade request isn't fulfilled (Getty Images).
He's been the "dish man" –
to use his words –
for the vast majority of the 180 goals that Dany Heatley has recorded over the past four seasons.
Ottawa Senators centre Jason Spezza offered up another assist for his linemate and good friend earlier today, saying it's time for Heatley to give the organization a chance to move forward in its attempts to rebuild a contending hockey team.
"I'm just worried about our team moving forward and the city of Ottawa and us bringing a championship here and winning," Spezza said when asked about the pending trade of Heatley to the Edmonton Oilers –
a deal that won't happen unless the two-time 50-goal scorer waives the no-movement clause in his contract. "That's the focus for our players and if Heater wants to be here with that, then we'd accept him back.
"He's (been) a great teammate when he was here and if doesn't want to be here, then he's got to let us move on."
Senators general manager Bryan Murray thought he had accomplished that on Tuesday night when he brokered a deal with the Oilers that would have brought forwards Dustin Penner and Andrew Cogliano, along with defenceman Ladislav Smid
, to the nation's capital. But Heatley hasn't yet approved the trade and, in the meantime, a midnight deadline on July 1 came and went for the Senators to pay their winger a $4-million signing bonus.
With the bonus now paid out, Murray said the original deal with the Oilers is off the table.
"It's different now and I don't know whether we will continue or not," he told media at Scotiabank Place earlier today. "I will, I believe during the day, talk to (Oilers GM) Steve Tambellini again. Very definitely, it's not the same deal that it was yesterday."
Where do the Senators go next?
"Nowhere," said Murray. "He's still an Ottawa Senator."
Murray remains mystified about why the trade was held up. He indicated that Heatley and his agents knew he was negotiating with the Oilers on the weekend and "they were very interested. Could I continue? I was told yes, you could."
While he didn't believe the deal with the Oilers offered him equal compensation for Heatley, Murray said it was by far the best offered by any team.
"I took a deal that, probably hockey-wise, doesn't match Dany Heatley," said Murray. "But I thought it was fair to allow (Heatley) to have an opportunity to move if that's what he wanted to do and we would restock our team with a couple of players that we feel we can upgrade over the course of a year here."
"I'm just worried about our team moving forward and the city of Ottawa and us bringing a championship here and winning. That's the focus for our players and if Heater wants to be here with that, then we'd accept him back. He's (been) a great teammate when he was here and if doesn't want to be here, then he's got to let us move on." - Jason Spezza
The stalemate with Heatley also hampered Murray's ability to add players during the opening day of the National Hockey League's free agency period. After re-signing winger Chris Neil to a new four-year contract, Murray had little available room under the salary cap but the Heatley deal would have freed up valuable space.
"Our money was tight. We knew that," said Murray. "My thought going into the day was we would be getting three players for (Heatley). I was still hoping, on top of that, to get one other forward. So we're left a little short at the moment.
"I still need that other forward but because of the way things are financially and the cap numbers, until I move a player or two, it's going to be hard for me to go spend the money."
Murray said it's possible Heatley might still be a Senator when training camp opens in September and if that's the case, Spezza said he'd still be welcome in the Ottawa dressing room. But he said it's up to his linemate to make a decision soon that helps both sides.
"I just hope this doesn't stall our organization," said Spezza. "We want to move forward and if we wants to come back, we'll accept him back and we'll be a good team with him. But if he doesn't want to come back, he has to let us make a move and get some players to replace him."
Author: Rob Brodie