Monday, July 6, 2009

Messy Divorce In Bytown


Amidst all the screaming and self-righteous indignation, we finally get a reasoned and logical take on the Heatley situation from Ken Campbell at the Hockey News who has the balls to infer that maybe Murray could have handled this situation a little better than he did:

"Before any trade was made, Murray could have forced Heatley to waive his no-trade clause unconditionally.....

There would have been nothing preventing the Senators from telling Heatley to write a letter to Central Registry pre-approving a trade to any one of the other 29 teams. No letter to Central Registry, no trade. Simple as that."

He's got a point. Murray approached the trade with Edmonton from a position of weakness, probably just hoping that negative public opinion would force Heatley to accept.

Heatley was well within his rights to not only ask for a trade, but to use his no-movement clause as is spelled out clearly in his contract. It doesn't make him morally right, but it makes him technically right, if you know what I mean. When you take the emotion out of it, the argument doesn't seem as unbalanced as many make it out to be.

I took a lot of heat (pun definitely intended) for saying much the same thing, but as Campbell points out, the contract Heatley negotiated in "good faith" gives him all the power in this situation, like it or not.

"First, he asked for a trade. Well, anyone from a minimum-wage plug to a 50-goal scorer has the right to do that.

He invoked his no-trade clause when a deal he didn’t like became available. That’s another right he has, one to which he and the Senators agreed when they consummated a six-year, $45 million contract extension a couple of months after the Senators went to the Stanley Cup final in 2007. The ubiquitous “no movement” clause is a classic team-killer that will undoubtedly be a major element in the next round of CBA negotiations, but the fact remains it was negotiated in good faith by both sides.

So it’s a bit of a stretch for anyone to believe the Senators might have a basis for a grievance because Heatley put them in such an untenable situation. "


With all that being said, it looks like Heatley's reputation has hit the terminal point around the league. What looks legit in a contract doesn't always matter to a tempestous fan base and a traditional old boys network around league offices who aren't exactly sympathetic to anyone who carries an NHLPA membership card in their wallet.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Campbell got the story right.

Despite all the emotion that's being played out, the contract dictates the rules that apply in this case. Heatley hasn't breached his contract.

I really think that as soon as Heatley starts scoring again, memories will fade.

Look at Kobe Bryant. He's a hero. Does any remember that he was on trial for rape? Memories fade in sports.

Heatley's getting clobbered because he's the first guy to use the NTC in this way. I think that he's creating a blueprint for how players may use it in the future. He probably won't get credit for it though.

Ten years ago, Eric Lindros got clobbered by the media for not wanting to play through a concussion. He took a lot of heat for standing up to Philly's medical staff. He never got credit for it, but he changed the game.

Due to Lindros, medical staffs are far more attentive to players' health, especially concussions.

Canucnik said...

Jeremy:

Why would you bring this up on a day of mild celebration in Sens land?

We are stuck with Dany Heatley for now...I like Dany a lot...but don't try to make him out to be the good guy here...he signed a big contract in good faith...he broke the faith...he took back his word...to add insult to injury JP BARRY leaked and lied about the "request"...leaked and lied about the "details of the trade"...if I were Dany I'd sue "Creative Artists" for poor and damaging advice and breach of contract for acting without consent.


These guys hurt us, it could have been bad...Kovy helps a lot.

Anonymous said...

Canucnik,

I think that Jeremey and Ken Campbell are just saying it like it is. It's a little clarity amongst all the anger.

Dany's not the good guy. But, he's not the bad guy either. The media creates these story lines.

He's got a contract. He wants out. There are rules to follow. Both sides are trying to follow the rules. People are angry because they are frustrated by the rules that they are not used to.

Oman said...

Conspiracy theory: Murray has played public opinion strategically and skillfully against Heatley to drive down his trade value, forcing other teams to make low-ball or "insulting" offers so that he wouldn't have to trade him. Now he has 2 of the best snipers in the league, a top line center with creative set-up skills, a god like captain and a good set of prospects and grinders. The offensive D is young and a step or two behind in their development, but with some work there, and the health of a new #1 goalie... who knows... If true, that might be enough of a spanking to make Heatley get his shit together.

On the other hand, this could be the big move to push Heater out the back door to the farthest reaches of the NHL (read Edmonton). At least now Murray can wait for the offers to grow. Cap room is not a problem. Retire / buy out Smith or Shubs. Trade Auld for a prospect and/or a pick (sorry Auld). Neil and Spezza have spoken up (congrats to Spez on becoming a man), Edmonton is ready to sweeten the pot (maybe take their old cowboy back, or throw in a late pick).

Either way Murray is sitting a lot prettier than he was a day ago. The ball is in your court Heater. What's it gonna be big guy?

hambown said...

"Before any trade was made, Murray could have forced Heatley to waive his no-trade clause unconditionally.....

There would have been nothing preventing the Senators from telling Heatley to write a letter to Central Registry pre-approving a trade to any one of the other 29 teams. No letter to Central Registry, no trade. Simple as that."


Ken has it right later on in the article: Heatley has all the power. If the Senators demand a complete waiver of the clause, Heatley's camp does no such thing and leaks that he wants a trade. Bryan Murray is now under pressure from the media, and other GMs are calling about Heatley offering little in return; the trade negotiations are on. Or, if Heatley and Barry want to be really nasty, they also leak the rumour that the Senators organization is pressuring him to give up something valuable in his contract. Senators management looks sleazy and the NHLPA does not approve of teams pressuring players to give up what they've negotiated in their contracts. I bet they remember these kinds of things, which could make signing free agents in Ottawa all the more difficult.

No, I don't think BM could have done any better than he did, there just wasn't much he could do. Heatley is just one player, the organization will be around long after he's retired; they cannot afford to look bad here.

Anonymous said...

Yes, The lawyers are playing their game. That is true. CBA wise, it seems legit.

However, the way it has gone down has been a complete betrayal to the fans, the players, and the organization. And for what, ice time?

Geesh. That is why Heatley's rep is in the shitter now.

But, it is salvagable. maybe? it all depends on him.

-KJ

Anonymous said...

It seems highly unlikely that this is only about ice time... Heatley has always hated the media and he probably realized that this team isnt in great position to win a stanley cup. Although he is right to point out that all this is within heatley's rights that doesnt mean that Heatley deserves to be off the hook. Personally, if Heatley starts scoring at his usual pace I will cheer for him like any other sens player. But he can't escape the fact that the trade was leaked, handcuffing BM and putting the team in a terrible position. One thing that does kind of disgust me is the language and arguement Heatley's agent, JP Barry uses when attempting to defend his client. I think most of the anger should be directed at him, but who knows if it was his or Heatleys descision making. While he does bring up a good point about the letter, overall this article still seems like something written by sportswriter who doesn't really know enough about the sens to write about them. The fact that he barely even mentioned the trade leak (which is the source of the most outrage) pretty much sums it up.

Jalen said...

Jeremy:

You and Ken continue to point to Dany's contractual rights as justification for his, and his agents', actions.

No one denies his actions fall within the boundries of the contractual rights he and the Sens mutually negotiated.

What you both continue to omit (or deny) is the lack of honour in his actions.

Yes, he had the right to refuse to waive. He also had knowledge of the negotiations, provided, at minimum, tacit support for continuing, and didn't use the ample opportunity afforded him to stop them.

Similarly, Ken's correct that Murray could have required Heater to provide an unconditional waiver. However, that is not how things are normally done and Ken should know that. Murray had no reason to expect the Heately camp to behave as they did. Put another way, just becuase you could've prevented someone from cheating you, doesn't mean it's your fault if they do, does it?

You and Ken can put up all the defenses you want, there's a reason Heatley has come off looking so badly in all this, and emotion has little to do with it. His lack of any semblance of honour does.

- Jalen

Anonymous said...

Get over your man crush.
None of this justifies Heatley's actions.
Whether it's within his rights or not, it's still a douche move.

Anonymous said...

Jalen,

Honour? I don't think that waiving your negotiated contractual rights makes you honourable.

I get that people are angry with him. But, I also get that he has the power to influence where he ultimately ends up.

He's not happy in Ottawa, for some reason. He kept his mouth shut during the season. He played through whatever was bothering him, so much so that he surprised even his teammates.

He told the Sens he wants out when the season was over. I guess people would be less angry if the Sens could deal him wherever they wanted to. He's not letting them. It's a bad PR move, but who cares about PR if he's not going to be happy.

He has negotiated a clause that gives him more control over his career. Good for him for using it.

Jalen said...

Anon 1:28pm

Again, Heatley's entitled to his contractual rights. Relying on them however, is no justification for deceit, misrepresentation or other similar conduct.

His camp went public with his demands for a trade as soon as he made them. This has nothing to do with his contractual rights and his camp clearly understood the damage to the organization and his teammates.

His camp supported the team negotiating a trade with Edmonton and then later backed out.

Heatley's NMC was negotiated to prevent the team from trading him against his will or to a location uncaccpetable to him.

He's using that right to try and force the team to accept an inferior trade to his preferred destination. Maybe you are ok with that. I, like most, am not.

More importantly, I'm not ok with the lack of integrity he's shown in making his demands public and misleading the team on his willingness to go to Edmonton.

Just because his contract doesn't require him to have honour or integrity doesn't mean he shouldn't.

If you think otherwise, then we clearly have different standards.

- Jalen

Anonymous said...

Jalen,

When the Sun reported the initial list of teams that Heatley would accept a deal to, Edmonton was not on that list.

When Murray was negotiating with EDM, it was being reported that the agents were trying to find alternative deals with other teams.

Looking from the outside, without having talked to any of the principals, it is pretty clear that he had reservations about EDM.

In any case, who cares. At the end of the day he has the right to refuse. You rightly acknowledge that.

Strictly, as a Sens fan, I hate the EDM deal. I don't want Penner. I think Heatley did us a favour. I'd rather give him up for a couple of first rounders and then use the available cap space to sign a UFA.

I won't even dignify your other nonsense with a response.

Jalen said...

Dignify? From an anonymous poster? Is that a joke? I think you meant to say it was too hard for you to explain or justify a player taking his trade demand public, sticking it to both the organization and his teammates.

Whether Edmonton was on his list or not, he was told they were interested and he encouraged Murray to pursue the trade. Only later, after a change of heart, did Barry try to put the brakes on those discussions and try to force the team to take an inferior deal with the Rangers.

I doubt Heatley will be moved for "a couple of first rounders" (which coincidentally Cogs and Smid are) without taking some salary back. I don't think a player with a $7.5M contract and 5 yrs left to rund can be moved without taking some back some salary.

Whether you liked the deal or not, it isn't the point. Contractual rights don't justify or preclude the lack of professionalism from the Heatley camp. Period.

- Jalen

Anonymous said...

Jalen,

I apologize, you are right. I also apologize for being anonymous. You have put me in my place.

Anshu said...

Just to throw my 2 cents in, I agree with Jalen.

Heatley's agents have not contradicted, but rather have corroborated, Murray's statements that he had permission to negotiate with Edmonton.

The agents continue to say things like "we were blindsided" and "we wanted more options to choose from". They have clearly not been acting in good faith in this situation, which I think is what Jalen means when he says they weren't being honourable.

I also agree Heatley was acting within his rights to veto the trade. That fact, however, doesn't excuse his actions from an ethical standpoint.

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