Dany Heatley says that he feels that his role with the Ottawa Senators has been diminished, and that's the biggest reason why he has asked for the team to trade him.
The veteran forward spoke in Kelowna, B.C. on Friday for the first time since he made the request in June. He stated that his wish to be traded has not changed over the summer.
"When I signed in Ottawa two years ago, I felt it was to be an integral part of the team," Heatley said. "Over the last two years and more recently over the past year, I feel my role was diminished. This past season, it diminished a lot more.
"This is a straight hockey decision. I have nothing against the fans of Ottawa, or the city of Ottawa. I would like the opportunity to go somewhere where I can play to the best of my capabilities and be the player that I can be."
Despite his demand to be moved, Heatley confirmed that he will still report to the Senators' training camp next month if he is not dealt.
"I have a contract, and if I'm still a Senator at training camp time, I'll be ready to go. But at the same time, I think we know that there are other teams out there that are interested, and hopefully something can get done," added Heatley.
For his part, Senators executive vice-president and general manager Bryan Murray said on Friday that finding trade partners for a high-priced player like Heatley has not been easy.
"I think (the Heatley camp) believed that I would present them with four teams who were willing to give Ottawa a package (for Heatley), and he could pick and choose from them," said Murray. "That has not been the case by any means.
"There are still a couple of teams that I'm talking to, but they are nowhere close to (offering) what I need to get back to protect this franchise."
Heatley also discussed the reason why he exercised his no-trade clause in early July to nix a deal that would have sent him to the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for Andrew Cogliano, Dustin Penner, and Ladislav Smid.
"It has nothing to do with Edmonton," explained Heatley. "It has everything to do with the options. To this date there has only been one option, and I know that there are other teams out there. I don't feel I can make the right decision until there are a few options and I can make the right decision for my career."
Murray said that while he has spoken to a number of teams about Heatley, he expects that at best he may find one or possibly two more clubs with serious interest in the winger.
"It's been a frustrating time for us, trying to find a place for him. I heard him continue to say that he wants to be traded, and we will continue to work in that area," said Murray.
"I think if I can get one more deal that's realistic for our team, then I can propose it to their side, and that would probably be the limit."
Heatley said he made his trade request to the Senators privately, and is disappointed that the issue became public.
"I regret the way it has been this summer, and it hasn't been fair - especially to Edmonton and Ottawa. But that's the way it went," said Heatley.
Heatley also addressed the reason he declined to comment on his trade request until now.
"I love the fans in Ottawa. I think it's a great city, and that's why I signed long-term there," said Heatley. "I didn't speak until now because there's a process that has to take place, and in all fairness to Ottawa and the other teams involved, I didn't feel it was necessary or purposeful to come out publicly and create more of a circus than it already was.
"It's unfortunate that it became public, because that is not what I wanted."
Heatley decided to speak in advance of his appearance at the National Team Orientation Camp, which begins on Monday in Calgary. He didn't want his NHL saga to become a distraction to the other players who are under consideration for a spot on the team that will represent Canada at the Olympic Games in February.
"We're happy he did that so now when he comes to this camp, we'll be able to move on," Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson said Friday in Calgary. "I think it shows respect for Hockey Canada."
Heatley made his formal trade request to Senators management on June 10. The 28-year old signed a six-year, $45 million contract extension with the team in October, 2007 in a deal that includes a no-movement clause.
The veteran forward became unhappy with his role in Ottawa last season, especially after the Senators fired head coach Craig Hartsburg in February and replaced him with Cory Clouston. Heatley raised concerns with Clouston at the Senators end-of-season meetings about what he felt was the limiting of his ice time, and his shift from the first to the second power-play unit.
If Heatley does get moved, it will have to be to a team that can afford the remaining five years of his contract, with a salary cap hit of $7.5 million per season.
Heatley notched 39 goals and 33 assists in 82 games last season. The 72 points marked his lowest total in his four seasons with the Senators. He had back-to-back 50-goal campaigns in 2005-06 and 2006-07.