Jason Spezza has been spending most of his Thursday dismissing reports that he’s asked for a trade from the Ottawa Senators, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s happy with the team or with his role on it.
Spezza met with Senators GM Bryan Murray during the usual end of the year talk and expressed displeasure with being the “whipping boy” in Ottawa. It’s a valid claim, especially considering how hard Sens fans can be on the centreman. Blamed almost entirely for his team’s playoff failure, Spezza hasn’t exactly been a fan favourite.
Spezza has a no-trade clause which kicks into gear on July 1, so there’s some rounded speculation that he may be traded prior to the date. The feeling is right now that the Senators wouldn’t be all that opposed to moving him, either, especially if it was for the right price and to the right place. But with five years left on his contract and a cap hit of $7 million per year (!), he’s not the easiest guy to offload.
In 2007, Spezza signed a seven-year contract extension worth a whopping $49 million.
You have to imagine that Spezza would appreciate a fresh start in another market, too, especially with his reputation quickly becoming inescapable. At 26, he’s still a young player and yet he’s shouldered all of the responsibilities in a tough hockey market that’s seen its fair share of disappointment. He finished the regular season with 57 points in 60 games and popped in a goal and added six assists in his team’s playoff series against the Penguins, but fans seem most poised to focus on the fact that he went -3 in the series.
It’s this time of rain cloud sentiment that has to be bogging Spezza down as a young player. Without the ability to gain any momentum among a slew of fair weather fans – we have no shortage of those in Vancouver, so don’t think it’s an Ottawa thing – it’s hard for him to gain ground and work on his skills.
It’s probably the best thing for both the Senators and Spezza, to say nothing of their fairweather fans, to part ways before it’s too late. Moving him prior to July 1 could open up some options for off-season building and could take the team in a new direction. It could also give a young player a fresh start.
Posted by Jordan Richardson.