The Ottawa Senators confirmed Thursday that the Dany Heatley deal is off the table — for now, at least.
Heatley, who has asked to be traded, refused to waive his no-trade clause after the Senators agreed to send him to the Edmonton Oilers in return for forwards Andrew Cogliano and Dustin Penner and defenceman Ladislav Smid.
The Senators tried to finalize the trade in time to avoid paying Heatley a $4-million US bonus due him on July 1, but the disgruntled sniper waited until the deadline had passed before nixing the proposed swap.
Asked where that leaves Heatley, Senators general manager Bryan Murray said: "Nowhere. He is an Ottawa Senator."
Oilers management reportedly went so far as to meet with Heatley at his summer home in Kelowna, B.C., hoping to sell the two-time 50-goal scorer on the move.
Now both teams find themselves back at square one.
"It is different now and I don't know if we will continue or not," the visibly miffed Murray said. "I will, I believe, during the day talk to [Oilers rookie GM] Steve Tambellini again but, very definitely, it is not the same deal as it was yesterday."
That's because the Senators were forced to pay the hefty bonus, which counts toward Heatley's salary cap hit of $7.5 million US next season.
"Not a lot of teams were interested in making an offer," Murray said. "The few that did were, in a couple of cases, not very good [and], in one case, very insulting for Dany Heatley's value.
"I took a deal that probably hockey-wise doesn't match for Dany Heatley. But I thought it was fair to allow the player to have an opportunity to move if that is what he wanted to do and we would stock our team with a couple of players that we feel we can upgrade over the course of a year here."
'We're left a little short at the moment'
Forced to commit $4 million US toward Heatley, whether he stays or not, tied Ottawa's hands somewhat as the NHL free-agent frenzy began Wednesday at noon ET.
"Money was tight and my thought going into the day was we would be getting three players for one player and I was still hoping, on top of that, to be able to get one other forward," Murray said. "So we're left a little short at the moment."
"I just hope that this doesn't stall our organization," Senators forward Jason Spezza noted. "We want to move forward.
"If he wants to come back, then we will accept him back and we will be a good team with him. But if he doesn't want to be here, he has to let us [unload him] and get some players to replace him."
Heatley, 28, has racked up 260 goals and 543 points in 507 games over seven NHL seasons since he was drafted second overall by the Atlanta Thrashers in 2000.
He had 39 goals and 72 points last season, but that output represented his lowest totals with Ottawa, which signed him to a six-year, $45-million US contract extension on Oct. 4, 2007.
"Certainly, I'm disappointed," Murray said. "There is no question that there was a commitment made both ways a couple of years ago that Dany would be here for a long part of his career.
"He is a good player and he is a good guy. He probably has not had the total advice that is needed to be a committed guy to Ottawa."