The Ottawa Senators on Saturday traded disgruntled forward Dany Heatley to the San Jose Sharks for forwards Jonathan Cheechoo and Milan Michalek, a deal that also involves an exchange of draft picks.
The move ends over two months of drama surrounding the future of the team with one of its stars.
Heatley, 28, said late last month he hasn't felt integral to the team since Cory Clouston took over as coach in February.
The feud escalated when details of a trade that would have sent Heatley to Edmonton were made public. Heatley exercised his no-trade clause, believing that just one choice was no choice at all.
Senators general manager Bryan Murray said he was working hard to try to deal Heatley before training camp, which opened this weekend.
"It's a deal that we talked about throughout the summer, although Michalek came in late," Murray said after announcing the deal about six hours into the first day of training camp.
"I talked to Dany yesterday and he was adamant that he wanted to be moved and we felt based on that, more than anything, that we should get the value that we could get for him and move on," said Murray.
"What we care about are the guys that are in our room, and we feel that this makes the core group know where they are going forward."
Team captain Daniel Alfredsson had also said it would be best if Heatley got his wish to be moved.
Heatley twice scored 50 goals and 100 points for the Senators, but saw his point totals dip to 39 goals and 33 assists last season, the lowest of his four years with Ottawa. He signed a six-year contract in late 2007, a deal worth $45 million US.
"I want to thank the City of Ottawa. I had a great four years here but now the organization and myself can move on," he said on Saturday. "I'm excited to be a Shark."
Phoenix veteran Shane Doan, who roomed with Heatley at the world championship, believes the change in scenery will benefit his friend.
"It's an incredible opportunity for Dan," said Doan. "Heater's one of the nicest men you'll ever meet, you can't say enough. … I'm so happy for him. A lot of things were said unfairly about Dan [about] the type of person he is — he's just a quality, quality person. He's just a great hockey player that I would have on my team and in my dressing room in a heartbeat.
Essentially the deal offers a new start to both Heatley and Cheechoo, whose goal scoring has diminished in recent seasons. Mostly, however, it removes a black cloud over the Senators' organization.
After news leaked in June that Heatley had requested a trade, the Calgary native was silent until late August when he talked to the media just prior to the Canadian Olympic team's orientation camp.
Heatley said then he wanted out because of reduced ice time and a perceived diminished role with the club.
He provided little further insight Saturday.
"There's some personal things that [happened] and I feel a change was the best thing," Heatley said. "I don't think I did anything wrong asking for a trade. I had my reasons and if people think different of me that's fine, but I feel I've done nothing wrong and I'm happy to move on."
The trade comes just days after rumours of a three-way deal involving Ottawa, the Sharks and Los Angeles Kings were denied by all those reported to be involved.
For his part, San Jose GM Doug Wilson is more than ready to welcome Heatley to the Shark Tank. Wilson said he'd spoken with Murray for months and was happy to finally get the deal done.
"There aren't many guys in the league that have [Heatley's] skill set," said Wilson. "To be able to score 50 goals in this league, to be a type of player selected to come to the camp for probably the hardest team in the world to make which is the Canadian Olympic team …
"When you get a player of this calibre it can only make you better. And especially a highly motivated player, and especially a guy that's just coming into his prime at this age."
The 29-year-old Cheechoo has come nowhere close to the 56 goals he scored in 2005-06 while winning the Rocket Richard Trophy as the league's top goal scorer.
The Moose Factory, Ont., native has totalled just 35 goals total over the last two seasons while battling injuries, although he became a better defensive forward as his role shifted in San Jose.
Michalek, who turns 25 in December, has spent his entire 317-game NHL career with the Sharks. The Czech forward has scored between 57 and 66 points in each of the last three seasons after being selected sixth overall in the 2003 NHL draft.
Having scored 20 goals in each of those three seasons, the Czech is seen as a player who has yet to fully show his great potential. The Senators will no doubt look to give him the chance to change that.
Ottawa acquires a second round pick in the 2010 NHL entry draft in the deal, with a fifth-rounder heading to San Jose.
The Senators play in San Jose on Dec. 1 but the Sharks won't visit Ottawa until next season unless the two teams meet in the Stanley Cup final in June.