I believe it was during our podcast that featured an interview with Gord Wilson that I first truly heard about the lengths that Jason Spezza was going to in developing into one of the team’s biggest off-ice leaders.
I’m paraphrasing now, but at the time – February 20th, 2010 – Wilson acknowledged the fact that Spezza was the driving force and organizer of many of the team’s private functions and get-togethers.
From private team parties to a very public and grandiose wedding in the heart of downtown Ottawa, Spezza’s always struck me as a someone who wants to be ‘the man’. And for years, it wasn’t easy.
From the moment that we walked through the doors to what’s now ScotiaBank Place, he has been a lightning rod for criticism. Of course it never helped that Jacques Martin dropped a “the NHL is a man’s league” and “Spezza is still a boy” bomb when Jason participated in his first training camp. From there, he was maligned by fans because he wasn’t enough of a complete player for their liking; and he would make those patently ill-advised drop passes at the opposition’s blue line.
Too often his elite offensive skill set was taken for granted. Even during their recent downturn that necessitated the team’s retooling, some (myself included) openly wondered whether a Spezza trade could expedite the process. That’s what losing and systemic shitty hockey does to you: they make you want to trade your best aging players for young, unproven and inexpensive assets.
Thankfully, Senators management exposed the fact that in the current NHL climate, it’s easier to maximize value and get teams to overpay for second and third line talent than it is to get top value for established stars. By peddling the Kellys, Fishers and Campolis of the world, management traded this bevy of expendable talents for a number of early draft selections – which in turn, could be used to augment and build around Spezza and other established players.
Now 29 years of age, Spezza’s no longer the boy that Jacques talked about at that 2002 training camp. He’s a veteran who is stepping up and relishing that leadership role.
Fast forward to the present date – with the uncertainty enshrouding the start of the 2012/13 season, Spezza has rallied many of his teammates to join him in New York for a significant meeting of the NHLPA's membership.
“It just looks good on the team,” Methot said. “We’re supporting the union, we’re supporting the cause and we’ve got to represent our team well. We want to show that Ottawa is involved as a team, as well. I know Spezza has been texting all of us, making sure we’re ready to go. He has taken the reins on that and we’re following suit.”
In case you were wondering who the next captain of the Senators will be when Alfie decides to hang them up, look no further than the team's number one center.
Round an atmosphere of uncertainty in the team this season. Hopefully this will stir well and Senators may be much better than last season.
I don't like him. To me, the honeymoon was over when he allegedly asked Murray for a trade following the boo-birds having their way in that game against the Penguins. It's easy to say so and so is a leader, but how hard is it it to lead when nothing is expected of you, and let's be honest here guys, no one expects the Ottawa Senators to make the finals anytime soon, so Jay-Jay can keep getting multi-point games vs. the Islanders and Jets of the world and no one will be the wiser.
We'll see leadership when he says: "It's my fault. I didnt elevate my game. I should have done a lot more." We'll see leadership when he throws his body or face in front of a puck to stop a game-winning goal in the playoffs. We'll see leadershp when he...LEADS this team to a championship.
Until then I'm sure the leadership talk will keep up but let's be honest, calling making reservations for the guys leadership? That's damning with faint praise at best. I mean, we all do that ourselves right?
@SteveHL Well, you admitted your bias in the first four words: You don't like him. You, and many other Sens fans for some reason, have an initial dislike of Spezza, and that factors into the impression you get about the rest of his game.
What, exactly, happened in 2007 when he led the team to the Stanley Cup Finals? Yes, he had a significant amount of support that year, but if you can point to a team that won the Cup on the back of a single individual (other than perhaps a hot goalie), it'll be the first I see of it. There are also a lot of great leaders who haven't won a championship, like... Daniel Alfredsson, for instance. I've also never seen Alfredsson say the thing you're insisting Spezza say. Being a leader doesn't mean taking the fall for everyone, it just means working your ass off.
Personally, I've never really been a huge fan of Spezza on a personal level, beyond his being a member of the team I cheer for. I don't have his name on a jersey and I don't collect his hockey cards or seek his autograph. I've also seen good reason for at least some of the criticism he's faced, at least in the past, even if it's been taken by some to ridiculous proportions. But I'm becoming more and more impressed with what I see from him on and off the ice. It seems like a lot of Senators fans, however, will never change their opinions of him no matter how much he changes his approach to the game and the way he plays. And that's an issue.
"In case you were wondering who the next captain of the Senators will be when Alfie decides to hang them up, look no further than the team's number one center."
As it should be. Haters gonna hate.