Senators Watch: Melnyk must drop Heatley issue

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Well, now that the Ottawa Senators have finally faced Dany Heatley for the first time since their ugly divorce last summer, thankfully they can now move on.

Oh, wait a minute. No they can't, thanks to their owner Eugene Melnyk and his vindictive pursuit of Heatley through arbitration. Isn't it great to see rich guys cry and stamp their feet after they don't get their own way?

This corner has gone on the record a number of times saying Heatley was guilty of nothing more than being a petulant, self-absorbed twit. Did he jerk the Senators around? Heck, yeah. Did he do anything that would put him in a position where he could be pursued for damages from a team that didn't make the playoffs? Come on.

The fact that Melnyk intends to recoup the $4 million he paid Heatley in a signing bonus, and lost revenues due to the perceived damage L'affaire Heatley caused the organization, is rich indeed. Remember, Melnyk is the same owner who signed off on the transaction to sign Marian Hossa to a long-term contract one day, then trade him to the Atlanta Thrashers for Heatley the next.

The fact is, Heatley negotiated a no-trade clause in his contract and he enforced it when the deal wasn't of his liking. Nothing more, nothing less. Of course he could have handled the situation better, but perhaps the Senators should have thought of that before giving him an iron-clad no-trade clause in the first place.

And here's another little fact that seems to be escaping the Senators. They could have said no.

They were fully within their rights to tell Heatley exactly where to stick his trade request. They could have demanded he show up at training camp and fulfill his contractual obligation to the team. They could have told him to work out his problems with coach Cory Clouston and/or get his off-ice issues in order. Then they would have had a case had Heatley not come to camp.

And they would have been in a great position of leverage. They could have told Heatley he could sit at home and rot for as long as he wanted to do so, knowing full well it is an Olympic year and doing so would have killed Heatley's chance to play for Canada in Vancouver.

Heatley would have either had to comply or he would have looked like an even bigger jerk than he did and the Senators would have come out of this looking great. They could have negotiated with teams with Heatley playing and the entire situation still could have been resolved one way or the other.

Now they just look like they're bent on revenge.

This article also appeared in the Ottawa Metro newspaper.

Ken Campbell, author of the book Habs Heroes, is a senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to His blog will appear Wednesdays and Fridays and his column, Campbell's Cuts, appears Mondays.

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