Dany Heatley figures the time is finally right to get himself a home he can call his own.
“I have to buy a house. I’ve been renting a place for the past three years,” the Ottawa Senators sniper said Thursday morning. “So it’s probably time to buy a house.”
No doubt about it, Heatley has decided Ottawa is the place he intends to call home for the foreseeable future. The only 50-goal scorer in Senators history made that clear on Wednesday when he inked a new contract that’ll extend his stay in the nation’s capital for another six years.
|Senators defenceman Wade Redden (right) and Darcy Tucker of the Maple Leafs renew the Battle of Ontario on Thursday night at Scotiabank Place (Graig Abel/NHL). |
While there had been suggestions that Heatley could have broken the bank by allowing himself to hit unrestricted free agency next summer, none of that mattered in the end. The big forward with the lightning-quick scorer’s touch looked around a dressing room and a city that has embraced him since his arrival here three seasons ago and saw everything he needed to see.
“Who knows?” said Heatley when asked if he might have squandered a shot at even more riches by signing with the Senators now. “I don’t really care at this point. I’m happy with the deal that I signed and I’ll leave it at that.
“There’s 22 great guys in (the Senators dressing room) and that’s a special thing.”
Heatley surely also notices the Senators organization is putting the pieces in place to ensure it remains among the National Hockey League’s elite. Defencemen Chris Phillips and Anton Volchenkov signed new contracts at the end of a season that saw the Sens reach their first Stanley Cup final in modern-franchise history.
Since then, centre Mike Fisher and goaltender Ray Emery have also been locked up for the long term by general manager Bryan Murray, who negotiated new contracts with both key regulars.
"We are going to think long term, we are going to commit all the resources we can to putting a championship team on the ice every year," Senators owner Eugene Melnyk said Thursday in officially welcoming Heatley back into the fold for another six years. "It's one thing to have a team that is a one-hit wonder, then collapses the following year. That's not something we want to do here in Ottawa. I know for sure the fans don't want that and the players don't want that."
Centre Jason Spezza, who can be a restricted free agent at the end of this season, said that's the type of commitment players definitely notice when considering their futures.
“You want to make sure you’re with a team with a good nucleus of guys,” said Spezza, his tone suggesting he wants to be a big part of that future here. “You want to make sure you know who you’re going to be playing with for the next five or six years.
“That’s important for a player. That’s one of the main factors coming into it (now), how good your team is going to be.”
The current group had one long look at how good it can be last spring. A tangible reminder of that arrives Thursday night, when the Eastern Conference championship banner is raised to the rafters before the Senators’ home opener against the Toronto Maple Leafs (7 p.m., CBC, Team 1200).
Then the Senators will attempt to duplicate Wednesday night’s result, a 4-3 victory over the Leafs at Air Canada Centre in Toronto. Heatley was the scoring hero, notching the tying goal and overtime winner. But a lot of the talk Thursday morning surrounded defenceman Wade Redden, who went toe-to-toe with the Leafs’ Kris Newbury and Bates Battaglia in a rare two-fight night.
“You’ve got to stand up for yourself and do whatever you can to help the team,” Redden said matter-of-factly about it. “I don’t think you’ll see that (from me) every night. But it’s part of the game and sometimes you’ve got to be ready for that.”