Ottawa Senators head coach Cory Clouston didn’t gain a lot of insight into Dany Heatley’s mind set, after the star winger spoke publicly for the first time five days ago.
“I don’t think we learned a whole heck of a lot more,” Clouston told reporters at Scotiabank Place on Wednesday.
Clouston was labeled as one of the reasons Heatley wanted to leave Ottawa, after the sniper complained of a “diminished role” under the rookie head coach. Clouston responded to that, by saying his focus was to turn a struggling team around and his intention was never to single out Heatley.
“As far as the diminished role, it was very slightly diminished and in my opinion, it wasn’t diminished,” said Clouston, who coached the team for the final 34 regular season games. “He might have been put on the second unit power play, but that was not a punishment. That was try to spread out the scoring. And everyone knows that his production went up as well.”
After spending almost three months trying to trade Heatley, since his trade request went public on June 6th, the Senators may be forced to keep the disgruntled winger when camp opens on September 12th. If that does happen, Clouston said Heatley can would be welcomed back into the fold – provided he has the right attitude.
“We need a guy like Dany Heatley to want an expanded role. I don’t think a coach has too many players coming into his office saying they want their roles diminished,” Clouston continued. “We need from Dany what we need from everybody else – to come into camp in the right frame of mind, be a team guy and work hard. And if those things are done, then absolutely, his ice time is not going to be diminished by any way, shape or form. If anything, it’s going to go up.”
As for suggestions that Heatley should be stripped of his assistant captaincy if he returns, Clouston said that talk was far too premature.
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“We’ll wait and see on that. Until we see the whites of his eyes in the dressing room, we’ll address it then,” he said.