Who leaked the Heatley trade?

Ever since it was made known that Dany Heatley had requested a trade from the Ottawa Senators, fans and followers of the team have been under the impression that the winger's representatives leaked that fact as a tactic to put pressure on Senators' brass. But, like so many back-door reports, it's virtually impossible to verify who, in fact, did leak information about the trade.

NHLPA Executive Director Paul Kelly, while defending Heatley from the public criticism he's received, denied reports that the winger or his representatives publicized the trade request.

It's possible that the trade request just became public knowledge after all 29 other NHL teams were approached about the availability of Heatley. But the bottom line is that both sides would have had something to gain in leaking the request, but both sides would also have something to lose. So the question remains: Who leaked information of Heatley's trade request?

(Read more... )

First off, as has long been believed, there's the scenario in which Heatley or his agents made the information available to the media. In doing so, pressure would obviously be exerted on GM Bryan Murray to make a deal happen: After all, if a player makes a trade demand and no one is around to hear it, did it ever happen? By making it public, Heatley would have forced Murray's hand in moving him.

However, if Heatley had made it public, he also opened himself up to the intense public criticism he's been receiving since the demand was made. Although his unwillingness to publicly address his wishes had made it even worse, he opened himself up to outright hatred in some squares. He also ran the risk of lowering his own market value, meaning that those teams he was most anxious to be traded to could have soured on acquiring a player whose loyalties could be so easily swayed.

On the other hand, Murray had one very obvious benefit in releasing information about the trade: He'd take criticism off himself, and place it squarely on Heatley's shoulders. I'd read this hypothetical in the past (on another blog, although I forget which one), but think about it: Had we not known about the trade demand, and Heatley was dealt out of the blue on July 1, a lot of Senators' fans would have run Murray through the ringer. But with this built-in excuse, Murray is able to avoid public criticism for much of what he's done so far in the off-season because so much of the focus has been on Heatley.

On the other hand, if GMBM was the one who made it public, he's greatly handcuffed himself in trying to make the deal happen. It's possible that's just fine with Murray, who may never have wanted to deal Heatley in the first place, but it's hard enough to deal someone set to make as much cash as Heatley is going to make even without knowledge of his second trade request from as many teams.

Or maybe it just got leaked by one of the teams with whom Murray was holding discussions. Who knows?

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