Like a bad headline in the Ottawa Sun (Check out today’s ‘Michalek’s return quite the feet’), you’d be pretty hard pressed not to notice the praise that’s been heaped upon Jason Spezza by the traditional media lately. Since Chris Kelly and Mike Fisher have been dealt, it's like a weight has been lifted off of Jason's chest. Or maybe the treatment is different because he's just one of the few recognizable faces left in the dressing room.
Regardless, Spezza's always been the kind of player who was underappreciated in this city. Too often, cynics would dwell on his no-look passes or other offensive gambles and neglect to notice or even acknowledge that his all-around game has immeasurably improved over the past few seasons. Even looking back at last season, in the wake of Heatley's absence, Spezza's took on a bigger leadership role. (Note: If you've been a regular listener of The 6th Sens Podcast, you may recall an episode last season that featured an appearance by Gord Wilson that touched upon how Jason had taken it upon himself to improve the camaraderie of the team off-the-ice.)
I don't have an opportunity to step inside the locker room and see how the dynamics of the team have changed in the past few weeks but when Wayne Scanlan notes on Twitter (@HockeyScanner) that 'Spezza has changed again since Fisher, Kelly left. Has taken on more responsibility inside room', it can only bodes well for the future. If this team has any hopes of having sustained success moving forward, its best players have to be vocal or set great examples.
Potential Alfie Return?
According to @ian_mendes, there is a chance Alfredsson could join the Sens on the upcoming road trip to start skating with the team. Still no firm timetable.
At first glance, it’s easy to question the Senators organization for not telling Alfie to shut it down for the remainder of the season. Looking back at some comments made by Cory Clouston to the media in February, Alfie’s injury is of the chronic variety, I can't help but question why he would try and come back during a lost season. But here's what Clouston said,
“It’s the type of injury where one day it feels a certain way and another day it feels another way. We’re not going to put him in a situation where it could make any further damage because that’s what it has done all season. He’s been getting progressively worse, the more he tried to fight through it so we’re not going to put him in that situation.”
"There is some form of injury that is going to nag him forever and that does have some lingering effects, sure.”
As Twitter follower @Dennis_Prouse pointed out, Alfie wants to try to play before year end "to see where he is at", i.e. whether or not it is worthwhile to play in 2011-12.
Although Mendes did mention that Alfie would like to play this year, so his season ends on positive note and he can adjust summer training, the health of the captain is interesting fodder for discussion and it's definitely something to keep an eye on as the season draws to a close.
From Fox Sports Florida’s Frank Forte:
A huge question is what happens to goalie Tomas Vokoun. He is unrestricted, and there apparently wasn’t a huge market for him at the trade deadline.
Vokoun makes $6.5 million, and regardless of whether he re-signs with Florida or goes elsewhere, he can expect at least a 50 percent pay cut simply because the goalie position has become devalued from a monetary standpoint around the league. Teams who are not locked into long-term, expensive deals with goalies are just not ready to dish out that kind of money for a netminder anymore.
I don't know if I buy into the logic that a market simply won't be there for a guy like Vokoun, especially when I channeling my ignorant Canadian hockeyocracy side and laugh at what some Floridian reporter has to say. Look at Colorado for example: that's a team that desperately needs quality goaltending and isn't that far removed from the salary cap floor. No one predicted that Wade Redden would sign a contract worth 6-years and $39.5 million on July 1st, but it happens. Once silly season opens on July 1st, common sense doesn't prevail.
Heritage Jersey Tease
The guys over at Icethetics have posted photos of the Senators heritage jersey that will be used during the team's 20th anniversary season. The pictures captured some slides of a PowerPoint presentation that the team showed off to the season ticket holders who attended last Saturday's hotstove panel. Although the jersey has been folded up and manipulated in such a way that it doesn't really reveal too much, it looks as though the Senators are going with a heritage shield that is loosely based off of their jerseys from the early 1920's. Interestingly, the jersey appears to be devoid of the barber poles that Cyril Leeder confirmed on Team 1200's Healthy Scratches program. I'll assume that the team will be incorporating the barber poles with their socks.