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Spezza centred on new season with Senators

Wednesday, 10.13.2010 / 10:34 AM ET / Features
By Rob Brodie  -
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Spezza centred on new season with Senators
The changing of seasons never fails to put an extra bounce into Jason Spezza’s step.

Seven years into his still young National Hockey League career, the Ottawa Senators’ No. 1 centre is as enthused as ever about the start of a new campaign. It is a time when hope springs eternal across the league, especially in the locker-room of a team that believes it took a significant step forward during the 2009-10 season.

“It’s definitely an exciting time of the year,” said Spezza, 27, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. “You put all your time in during the summer and now you want to see where you are as a player. And you reap the benefits of all your hard work.”

Spezza surely is front and centre among those in the Senators camp who feel strongly that more good things await the team in the season ahead. After missing the Stanley Cup playoffs in 2008-09, the Senators got back to the post-season dance last spring and pushed the defending-champion Pittsburgh Penguins to six games before bowing out in the first round.

While the setback was difficult to accept — the Senators played the series without several injured front-line players — Spezza said there is plenty to build upon going forward.

“The way we ended (last season) as a team, we feel optimistic going into this year,” he said. “There are positives we can take (out of the playoff loss). We had some good young players play well for us toward the end of the year. It always sucks losing in the first round, but we feel like the series could have gone a different way if we had capitalized on a few more chances.”

With the addition of high-end defenceman Sergei Gonchar to the roster, Spezza sees a team that still has plenty of room to grow.

“Everybody starts from scratch, so you can’t rest on how your team played toward the end of last year,” he said. “But we’ve got a nice addition with Gonchar and we expect (Peter) Regin and (Erik) Karlsson to play much better and continue to grow. Those two guys played phenomenal for us down the stretch, so it’s definitely something to be excited about.

“(Gonchar) is a calming presence. He’s one of the best offensive defencemen of his generation. To bring a veteran like that in is only going to help.… He’s a guy I was very excited to see sign with us.”

But no addition to Spezza’s world was more celebrated than the one that arrived on June 8. That’s when Spezza and his wife, Jennifer, welcomed their first child, Sophia Donna. The mere mention of his daughter brings a quick, easy smile to Spezza’s face.

“It’s been amazing,” he said of being a first-time dad. “It’s been pretty special to be around her all summer and to get a chance to watch her in the first few months.”

It’s been said that becoming a parent is a life-altering moment like no other. And Spezza expects it might well put hockey and life into a different perspective for him.

“It definitely slows you down a little bit and it keeps you home a little bit more,” he said. “We didn’t travel as much this summer and we spent a lot of time with family. It brings you closer to family.

“You cherish things. You realize how special it is. Hopefully, it’ll help me separate the rink and home a little bit, too. I think I’ve always brought the game home with me a little too much, so this will give me a good distraction at home.”




1 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
2 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
3 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
4 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
5 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
6 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
7 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
8 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54


E. Karlsson 82 21 45 7 66
M. Stone 80 26 38 21 64
K. Turris 82 24 40 5 64
B. Ryan 78 18 36 5 54
M. Hoffman 79 27 21 16 48
M. Zibanejad 80 20 26 0 46
C. MacArthur 62 16 20 -6 36
M. Michalek 66 13 21 3 34
D. Legwand 80 9 18 1 27
A. Chiasson 76 11 15 -5 26
C. Anderson 14 13 8 .923 2.49
R. Lehner 9 12 3 .905 3.02