The San Jose Sharks made the big move that has been expected ever since their best regular season ended with a first-round playoff exit, acquiring disgruntled winger Dany Heatley from the Ottawa Senators on Saturday.
The Sharks gave up Milan Michalek, Jonathan Cheechoo and a second-round pick to acquire Heatley, who had been involved in a lingering dispute with the Senators because he felt he was not being properly used by the team.
"It was tough. It wasn't the greatest summer. No question," Heatley said in a conference call Saturday. "I'm relieved and excited to be going to San Jose."
Ottawa also sent San Jose a fifth-round draft pick. The long-rumored trade came on the opening day of training camp for Ottawa and ends a clash that has overshadowed the Senators in recent months.
"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," Senators general manager Brian Murray said.
The 28-year-old Heatley signed a $45-million, six-year contract extension less than two years ago with the Senators. But he said he wanted out of Ottawa because he wasn't being used properly. He then angered fans when he refused to waive a no-trade clause to move to Edmonton.
"I don't think I did anything wrong asking for a trade," Heatley said. "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."
This is the second time the talented Heatley has been traded. He was dealt from Atlanta to Ottawa in August 2005. That year, Heatley pleaded guilty to four of six charges of vehicular homicide and was sentenced to three years probation. He was the driver of a car in a 2003 accident that killed teammate and friend Dan Snyder.
Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said he had no qualms about adding Heatley, calling him a "great fit" for the organization.
"We're completely comfortable with the type of player and type of person Dany is," Wilson said. "Some of the best players in the league have been traded to other teams and had great success. We have zero concern."
Heatley initially cited his diminishing role with the Senators, particularly since Cory Clouston took over as coach in February after Craig Hartsburg was fired, as the reason for his trade request. He's since hinted there may be more to the story, saying there were some "personal things" that happened.
"I definitely feel like this was better for both sides," he said. "I talked to a lot of guys today and everybody is happy that there's a resolution and we can all move on."
The Sharks were looking to make some changes after the best regular season in franchise history was followed by a first-round playoff exit against the eighth-seeded Anaheim Ducks. San Jose posted 117 points and 53 wins on the way to the first Presidents' Trophy in team history.
All that was erased in six playoff games that provided yet another disappointing and early end to a once-promising season. The addition of Heatley should beef up the offense as he has scored 50 goals in a season twice and has averaged 45 goals over the past four seasons. Heatley had 39 goals and 33 assists last season.
"They're a great team with a lot of good players," Heatley said. "I feel like I can help that team out a lot."
Heatley has 260 goals and 283 assists in 507 regular games, split between Atlanta and Ottawa. He is due to make $8 million this year.
Michalek, a 24-year-old winger from the Czech Republic, had 23 goals and 24 assists in 77 games last season. His salary is $3.5 million this season.
The 29-year-old Cheechoo scored 56 goals in 2005-06 to win the Maurice Richard trophy, but his production has dropped off significantly since. He had only 12 goals and 17 assists in 66 games last season and was no longer a central part of the Sharks future.