It has been at least two days since we discussed Heatley, so let's have it. What amuses me is that since the AK27 signing, message boards have been littered with people suggesting that we now keep Heatley because we would be far more dangerous. C'mon folks, you're always more dangerous when you have a 50-goal scorer in your lineup. If it was up to Murray, we WOULD have Heatley in the lineup in the fall. But don't lose sight of what earthquake that shook the nation's capital last month - HE DOESN'T WANT TO BE IN OTTAWA!!!! Forget it! This isn't about some 90210 couple patching up their differences for TV drama, this is about a $7.5M player that demanded a trade out of town because of alleged philosophical differences about his role on the team. He isn't shying away from summer love on the shores of the Big Rideau, he is asking to get the hell out of town for the remaining five years of his contract! Dany Heatley and the Ottawa Senators are involved in an epic showdown that will end in bloodshed. To think that this will fade quietly is ludicrous. Quit drafting potential lines with Kovalev and Heatley on the same team.
Now that I have that out of the way, I wanted to try and figure out how much longer this thing is going to drag out. We're into the second week of free agency and let's be honest - all the pretty girls already found their mates. The bartender signalled for last call and the ugly lights are about to come on. There isn't much left out there. So who gains the advantage as this pushes out into the dog days of the off-season? Ottawa or Heatley? Think of it in business terms: in a short-term negotiation, time is the advantage of the buyer because the seller wants this thing sold. In our case, Murray is the seller and any trading partner is a buyer. But in the long-term, that advantage shifts and now time is a benefit to the seller. There is no rush, it is instead the buyer that has the pressure to get the deal done.
From the moment that the trade demand leaked until probably this past weekend, Heatley had the advantage of time. First, we placed enormous pressure on Murray to make a move at the draft and steal some picks and players. In the scenario, advantage Heatley because we figured Murray would take a lesser deal to get a trade done on the floor with top prospects within reach. But the man didn't bite. So then we had five days before free agency started. To make it more interesting, there was a $4M advance on Heatley's 2009-10 salary due on July 1st. Surely, this played into Heatley's hands, right? Not only would Murray have to get this degenerate and his cap hit off our books before the UFA period began, he also needed to save his boss from the humiliation of having to cut a whopper of a cheque to a player that will lace up outside Ottawa next year. If ever there was a time to sacrifice on return to free up cap space, it was on the eve of Canada Day. Murray took what he said was his only legit offer, but Heatley didn't jump to the Oilers, choosing to 'not respond'. 24 hours later and still no feedback, our heroic Eugene allegedly put down "a few glasses of rum" and signed the cheque while Murray sat on the sidelines. Game, set, match to Heatley, right? Wrong.
In waiting until the lights come on in this second week of free agency, Murray has completely regained control of this 'negotiation'. Time is now 100% on Murray's side. By forcing Heatley's hand by only offering them the Edmonton trade, Murray has made it very clear that you just don't mess with the old boys of the league. JP Barry played his hand all wrong on this, as we all have known and discussed. But this has gone beyond tarnishing the reputation of his client. He has now put him in such an absolutely abhorrent situation that I can't imagine how Dany gets any sleep at night. Think about it - you've been exposed as a bastard of infinite melancholy across the league, you've seen that teams would rather pay Gaborik than take on your contract, you've watched as all the other teams have addressed their scoring needs, and you've left yourself with two awful choices. The longer this drags on, the more the edge goes to Murray. From Ottawa's perspective, by not pursuing any other options, we know that we'll either have Penner and Cogliano joining our forward ranks (both top six players, in my opinion), or we'll have Heatley back (I still find it unlikely). Our choices are both pretty decent.
Heatley's choices, on the other hand, are disastrous. This is what happens when you play too early and miscalculate what the other side is holding in its hand. Heatley and company figured the pressure on Murray would force an early trade and the client would have all summer to regroup. Instead, he'll continue on as Public Enemy #1 (Yashin is #2 now) and have some mighty sleepless nights. Behind Door #1 is a return to Ottawa where your sweater is sold at 50% off and fans have peeled off all of the scabs of your past, right or wrong. Behind Door #2 is a lifetime (5 years) in the bitter cold of another non-playoff team in Edmonton.
Dany - because your handlers completely misread the effect of 'time' on a negotiation, you ain't gonna get a Door #3, kid. Lucky for you, we've given you the whole damn summer to think about it. Sweet dreams!