Of all the tribulations that can afflict a rookie head coach, the trade demand from a franchise player is one Ottawa Senators bench boss Cory Clouston would have been happy to avoid.
In his first comments since all-star winger Dany Heatley's trade demands surfaced publicly, Clouston said he will regret seeing the back of the former 50-goal scorer but that he has no qualms over how he handled him.
Relations between the two men have been cited as one of the reasons behind Heatley's desire to leave Ottawa.
"We never had any big arguments . . . conflicts on the bench, nothing of that nature. It was disappointing," said Clouston, who replaced the fired Craig Hartsburg in February. "It bothers me that a player like Dany, who is such a big part of the organization, all of a sudden doesn't want to be a part of that. I'm still confident and believe what we did was right."
According to assistant general manager Tim Murray, more than half a dozen teams have made inquiries about Heatley, although many are of the tire-kicking variety.
Murray also said that while the team is open to discussing offers for its ninth overall pick in the draft, its list of prospects is set. He wouldn't be drawn into whether that pick will be a forward or a defenceman, although he said last year's choice of rearguard Erik Karlsson doesn't mean Ottawa won't choose another blueliner this year.
One team that could accommodate Heatley's hefty contract is the Montreal Canadiens, although they are not known to have made an approach.
Instead, Habs GM Bob Gainey is hunting for a centre - which fans see as code for Tampa Bay Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier.
"It hasn't been a secret that we've always been in the market for a big, strong first-line centre if we can get our hands on one," Gainey said, adding, "I think it's going to require some patience, I think it's going to require maybe a little bit of luck, we feel like we have some of the assets needed to put a deal together."
Montreal has 10 pending unrestricted free agents, and Gainey has made a long-term contract offer to only one so far: defenceman Mike Komisarek.
Gainey will also speak to representatives for Saku Koivu and Alex Kovalev next week, but hopes to make a trade this weekend to clarify his salary cap picture.
"We've all got balls in the air . . . one could fall before tomorrow, or it could not," he said.Report Typo/Error