Jason Spezza was unveiled as the new captain of the Ottawa Senators on Friday. He takes over the title from Daniel Alfredsson, who left the team to join the Detroit Red Wings during the off-season at the cool cost of $5.5 million for one year’s worth of service.
The decision to name Spezza captain was relatively straightforward though there was some talk that defenceman Chris Phillips should be considered for the position. Both players have spent their entire careers in Ottawa and were key parts of the team’s many successes in the 2000s.
However, the easy money was always on Spezza to assume the captaincy. He’s been groomed for the position and already demonstrates great leadership. He’s also one of the main offensive contributors on the team and as we all know (whether it’s right or wrong), offence often trumps defence.
In 611 career games, Spezza has collected 621 points (228 goals, 393 assists), made two all-star appearances and helped bring the team to the Stanley Cup Final in 2007 (where Phillips helped them exit in a hurry).
It can be easily argued that Spezza is one the league’s better offensive players but that he’s never gotten the credit he deserves. There are a number of contributing factors to this somewhat regrettable reality.
Poor defence has been one of the greatest knocks against Spezza throughout his career, rendering him a “one-dimensional” player, and poor health has also been a lingering problem. Spezza has only cracked the 80-game plateau twice in his ten-year career. As well, it doesn’t help that he plays in one of hockey’s smallest markets. The local fans may be loyal, but outside interest is minimal at best. Having said all this, most teams would covet a player like Spezza.
As captain, there are a number of things Spezza will want to accomplish. Leading the list, he’ll want to continue the team’s recent unexpected rise to success. Few people thought the team would make the playoffs over the past two years, but this hasn’t stopped the team from upsetting its many detractors.
Another top issue concerns health: Spezza will want to avoid a prolonged visit to the infirmary this season given his newfound importance to the team.
I’m sure Sens fans are excited about their new captain, but I cannot help but get the sense there’s some uneasiness there as well. I bet many of them are asking themselves right now, “Okay, when does Spezza bolt for Detroit?”
His current contract expires in two years.
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