Hockey Notes

'No' vote draws heat

Senator not afraid to use veto power

By Kevin Paul Dupont
July 5, 2009
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Even now, it’s a safe bet that Dany Heatley will get traded to a good NHL team, which is what he wants, and he made it clear again last week that the only thing important to him is that he gets what he wants. That hardly makes Heatley a maverick among the legions of self-absorbed athletes who fill the rosters of professional teams around the world, but he sure has come up with a novel approach to make himself the game’s No. 1 ingrate.

“The Most Hated Man In Hockey’’ is how, the top-notch Canadian sports website, headlined a story on Heatley last week, after he refused to waive his no-trade clause with the Ottawa Senators.

It’s hardly news, or even an affront, for hockey players to cling to their no-trades. It’s their right, something they bargained for, and fans and general managers alike have grown to accept that players rarely relinquish their right to live and work where they want. Dan Boyle was perturbed a year ago when Tampa Bay’s new owners made it clear that his no-trade meant little to them, forcing him to OK his trade to San Jose. Based on the continuing train wreck in Tampa, Boyle should spend this holiday weekend filling out thank you notes to Len Barrie and Oren Koules, Tampa’s co-lunkheads in ownership, but that’s a story for another day.

Heatley wants out of Ottawa. He made that public about three weeks ago, including in his reasons that he disliked the coaching style/choices of new Senators coach Cory Clouston. GM Bryan Murray, about to enter the final year of his contract, said he would do his best to accommodate Heatley, knowing full well that any GM’s bargaining power is less than that of a Florida homeowner with a backyard alligator pond when a player tells the world he wants out of Dodge.

Nonetheless, Murray struck a deal with Edmonton. Not a great deal, but given the circumstances, not bad. The Oilers agreed to send two forwards, the speedy Andrew Cogliano and the slow-footed Dustin Penner, and promising defenseman Ladislav Smid to the Senators for the high-scoring Heatley. It was a classic half-dollar (Cogliano) and two quarters (Penner and Smid) swap for the one dollar that is Heatley, a two-time 50-goal scorer. But considering Heatley’s wage ($7.5 million) and his eroding image, a pretty good deal.

Until Heatley said no. Twice! He told Murray the day the GM made the deal that he wouldn’t go to Edmonton. About 24 hours later, after thinking it over and talking with freinds, he said no again.

“The option he has now,’’ said a steaming Murray amid a gaggle of print and electronic reporters, “is Ottawa.’’

We know that’s not true. Senators fans don’t want him back in the Red and Black. Oilers fans, with barrels of tar and feathers left over from the day Chris Pronger begged to leave town, truly hate “The Most Hated Man In Hockey,’’ and they didn’t even get to know him.

Meanwhile, the Senators, who paid Heatley $10 million last season, last Wednesday ponied up the $4 million more he was due as a signing bonus. They’ve forked over $14 million in the last calendar year and now contend, if they can find a deal, the return will have to be better than what Edmonton offered. Fat chance. The rest of the league will cry the same tears over that payment that Las Vegas casino operators spill when hard-luck gamblers show up with their stories of woe and plead for mercy. You gambled. You lost.

Heatley, who asked out of Atlanta after he barely avoided a jail term for his role in the car accident that killed friend and teammate Dan Snyder, now has asked out of two teams. He has twice opted not to demonstrate the same kind of mercy shown him by Thrashers GM Don Waddell, the Fulton County (Ga.) court system, and, more recently, by Murray. Born in Germany, he ran the risk, by the way, of being deported by the United States for his hand in Snyder’s death.

For a kid with a load of talent and a rich revenue stream, Dany Heatley has the world on a string. What he has to learn, and soon, is that there will one day be a price for keeping everyone around him at the end of it.

Return ticket for Toivonen

Ex-Bruins goalie Hannu Toivonen, dealt to the Blues for the ever-absent Carl Soderberg (not interested in Boston’s development camp this week), signed a two-way contract with St. Louis for 2009-10 after rebuilding his game last season in Finland (Ilves Tampere).

“He wants to give it another shot,’’ his agent, Bill Zito, said in an e-mail. Zito also represents Tim Thomas, who became a star in Finland before getting his big break with the Bruins.

Toivonen, 25 and a former first-round draft pick, had his game collapse with the Blues in 2007-08, then this past season played his most games (56) as a pro, going 19-23-9 with Ilves, with a 2.68 goals-against average and .910 save percentage. If he can stick with the Blues, who will have Chris Mason, Ty Conklin (ex-UNH), and the towering Ben Bishop (ex-UMaine) as his competition, he’ll make a modest $600,000. In the minors, his wage would drop to $105,000.

Meanwhile, Soderberg remains in Sweden, where he is likely to stay for the foreseeable future.

“Good player,’’ said a longtime Swedish scout. “And a very bright kid. If he wanted, he could probably be a doctor. I just don’t think he wants to play in the NHL. I don’t think it matters to him, really. He’s sort of a prince over there, playing in a smaller league, and I guess that’s OK with him.’’


A-OK according to CBA
Last Wednesday’s biggest free agent deal had Marian Hossa signing with the Blackhawks for 12 years/$62.8 million, the vast percentage of which ($55.3 million) will be paid over the first seven years in equal installments of $7.9 million. The cap hit is a fairly economical $5.23 million. Because he is 30, well under the collective bargaining agreement’s “senior’’ threshold of 35, Hossa’s cap number would disappear if he were to choose to retire at any time. Considering the deal pays him a total of only $7.5 million over the last five years, it’s a decent bet he will call it quits after 2015-16 and take that $5.23 million cap figure with him. Meanwhile, the Hawks will have had him on the books for those seven years with a cap number discounted by one-third of his real wage. It’s all legal, and it’s modeled after what the Red Wings did with Johan Franzen and Henrik Zetterberg, but it’s also a dodgy loophole that no doubt will get a lot of attention when the next CBA is hammered out in a couple of years.

King, but for how long?
Ex-Boston College Eagle Rob Scuderi, less than a month after winning a Cup with the Penguins, last Thursday agreed to a deal with the Los Angeles Kings worth $13.6 million over four years. The Kings still have some $10 million in cap space available and word is they likely won’t re-sign restricted free agent Jack Johnson, the Indianapolis-born blue liner selected No. 3 overall, behind Sidney Crosby and Bobby Ryan (a Calder finalist this season), by the Hurricanes in the 2005 draft. He missed half of 2008-09 with a shoulder injury. With Scuderi and Drew Doughty on the blue line, general manager Dean Lombardi can look to wheel the 22-year-old Johnson. Johnson’s upside could be high, but if he ends up being traded twice in less than 36 months with the cap not really a factor, it will bring into question if he should have been a No. 3 pick.

Loose pucks
Charlie Jacobs, a fixture at Boston’s table during the draft in recent years, was noticeably absent last weekend in Montreal. Overall, Charles in Charge’s public profile has diminished some in the last couple of years, especially since the skewering he took in a Boston Magazine profile following the first year of the front office’s reorganization. Jeremy Jacobs, his father, noted around the time that GM Peter Chiarelli took over that his executive son-on-site was “too valuable to the organization’’ and likely would be incorporating new roles and responsibilities with the team’s holding company, Delaware North . . . Chiarelli recently added his brother, Michael, to the Boston scouting staff . . . A couple of WannaB’s moved on last week after their tenures in Providence (AHL). Martin St. Pierre, his stick so long he could reach across the Canadian border during games in Buffalo, hooked on with his hometown Senators on a two-way ($525K/$250K) deal. Tough guy Jeremy Reich, whose Boston roster spot was usurped by Shawn Thornton, landed with the Islanders on a two-way ($575K/$105K) . . . Ex-Boston University star Mike Grier, now with 914 career NHL games, is looking for work after spending his last three seasons in San Jose. Not a big points guy, but he twice connected for 20 goals during his six-year stint with the Oilers. As the weekend approached, agent Jay Fee reported that a handful of clubs were interested in the 6-foot-1-inch, 225-pound, durable right winger . . . Mathieu Dandenault, who won the Cup three times with Detroit, was quoted in Montreal late in the week that he was contacted by the Bruins about a possible contract. Dandenault still offers some versatility, able to play both the wing and defense - similar to the role Steve Montador filled here upon arriving from Anaheim at the trade deadline. Montador hooked on last week with the Sabres, who committed $3.1 million to have him in Buffalo the next two years. Dandenault’s first season in Montreal (2005-06) was the year the Habs dismissed Claude Julien as coach in midseason . . . The Canucks, who last year tried to sign Michael Ryder as a free agent, successfully nabbed Mikael Samuelsson off the Wings’ roster for three years/$7.5 million. He won’t score like Ryder, but at 6-2, 215, he will bring some beef around the net that is likely to get him some playing time with fellow Swedes Daniel and Henrik Sedin . . . The Sabres were only willing to offer Jaroslav Spacek a one-year deal to return, after watching him put up eight goals and 45 points this past season. The Habs swooped with a three-year, $11.5 million deal, and perhaps Spacek can help Roman Hamrlik find his game . . . In a conference call in which he discussed the signings of Byron Bitz and Steve Begin, Chiarelli became the first Bruins official to confirm that the Winter Classic will be at Fenway Park Jan. 1. Look for the NHL any day now to stage an official press conference at Fenway.

Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at; material from personal interviews, wire services, other beat writers, and league and team sources was used in this report.

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