Last week Senators' centre Mike Fisher expressed his disappointment upon hearing news of his teammate Dany Heatley demanding a trade from the Ottawa Senators, and now Chris Neil is getting in on the action, too. The Ottawa Citizen reported that Neil said, among other things, that "It’s definitely shocking any time an elite player wants out of an organization that has bent over backwards for him," a very interesting take from a player who seems willing to bend over any way asked by the Senators' organization he's looking to re-sign with.
Neil has made no bones about the fact that he'd like to re-sign with the Ottawa Senators, and possibly end his career with the same team he's spent its entirety with so far. He had a somewhat reasonable $1.1M contract last season, and some have predicted that he may command in the area of $2.5M on the open market should he decide to test it. Some have said Neil would be willing to go below that number, though, if it means he gets to stay with the Senators.
Here are the rest of the Citizen's comments from Neil:
"It’s definitely shocking any time an elite player wants out of an organization that has bent over backwards for him," Neil said. "He’s a guy who was under contract for a long time and he’s paid very well … but if he doesn’t want to be here, let him go and do his own thing." [...]
"It’s frustrating to see," he said. "He’s a guy who was well liked in the dressing room, a guy who is going to score 40 to 50 goals for you (each season)."
"The biggest thing is we were winning at the end of the year and I really think he had an opportunity to score 50 goals again next season. He was scoring more after Clouston came in and I didn’t really see any problems. At one point, the power play wasn’t working; Cory saw that and switched things up. In one game, we got a bunch of goals on the power play (without Heatley), so he stuck with that. You go with what works."
"You would like to think that if they’re able to move (Heatley), they would be able to get somebody pretty good back," he said.
Quite a few interesting comments from Neil there, particularly referencing the fact that the Senators' have "bent over backwards" to keep Heatley satisfied--giving him a long-term, high-paying contract with a no-movement clause and also offering him a leadership role on the team as an assistant captain.
It's also pretty neat to see a player who may not even play for the Senators' next season still hoping they get full value in any upcoming trade. This may be playing to his audience, but one wouldn't be irrational in expecting that Neil was completely honest in his hopes that the Senators move on strongly, whether or not he's in the cards for the team.
Although I'm in the camp that thinks Neil may be quickly losing his effectiveness in the new NHL, comments such as this which reflect a palpable and strong devotion to the team certainly make me think he's the kind of team-first player any team would be lucky to have. I'm still not sure I'd like to see him re-signed at $1.5M or more per year, but I don't think I'll be disappointed is he is still in a Senators' uniform next season.