|Jason Spezza: Under-Loved and Under-Valued in 2010||Tweet|
|Written by Brent Lemon|
|Wednesday, 29 September 2010 13:32|
Jason Spezza - What's in Store?
With icons plucked from the famously doomed Roman Empire, a franchise like the Ottawa Senators has to be prepared to weather some downturns in fortune. Indeed, since advancing to the Stanley Cup final in 2007, and then kicking off the next campaign with 12 wins in 13 games (before collapsing in epic fashion), there hasn’t been much to celebrate in Canada’s capital.
But Sens’ fans can take heart, all was not lost after Roman civilization dissolved into the dark ages, and all is not lost in Ottawa.
In particular, one has to wonder if this is going to be a year of laurels for Jason Spezza.
The Spezza Story
Considering that he endured the pains of childhood modeling, even the most jaded of Sens’ fan has to concede that Jason Anthony Rocco Spezza could have turned out worse than he did.
Drafted second overall in 2001 by the Senators, Spezza broke into the NHL to stay by 2003. Scoring-wise, the 27-year-old enjoyed his best years (so far) between 2005 and 2008. But, injuries aside, it’s safe to say that the last two seasons have left fans and poolies mostly unsatisfied.
Here are Spezza’s scoring numbers since the lockout.
While Spezza’s points per game total has fallen off absolutely in the last two years (which some would suggest has a lot to do with his wingers), it’s interesting to note that his starts have also become relatively slower. He used to start hot, but his starts have progressively cooled over the past few seasons. Should this trend hold true for this year, Spezza’s final points per game ratio will be much better than his points per game ratio of his first 15 games.
Unfortunately, declining point totals and injuries haven’t been the only tribulations for the Mississauga native. Spezza has drawn the ire of Senators’ fans for alleged soft play, culminating in the centre being booed in his own arena during last year’s first round playoff loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Spezza’s frustrations surfaced in his exit interview last June when he apparently suggested he wouldn’t mind being traded. Sens’ GM Bryan Murray, then let this slip to the public, leading to media speculation over whether Spezza might be leaving town.
But all is now apparently forgiven, if not yet forgotten. Murray and head coach Cory Clouston had a four-hour meeting with Spezza, which included the top-line centre’s father and his agent, in order to clear things up. Murray now says, “maybe there was a little bit of exaggeration on my part when I made a couple of comments that he wanted out.” And the verdict on how Spezza feels? Murray recently told the Ottawa Sun, “we’ve got a guy who is committed to the Ottawa Senators.”
Spezza in 2010-11
Committed is good first step, but what can we expect from Spezza this year? There are some indications that it might be very good year for Spezza.
He finished strong last year. After missing 20 games with a torn MCL, Spezza put up an impressive 38 points in his final 30 games.
Plus, you have to think that the off-season addition of Sergei Gonchar will only help Spezza find the net, particularly when on the power play (a healthy Alex Kovalev wouldn’t hurt either).
Yet, predictions for Spezza remain tepid. The Hockey News has him pegged for 84 points in their Ultimate Fantasy Guide. Rotowire, used by Yahoo, has him ranked as the 31st best centre – behind Olli Jokinen. Now, it’s unlikely that Spezza will contend with the likes of Sidney Crosby as a NHL’s top pivot, but some would suggest that Spezza is being undervalued there. Behind Jokinen? Really?
One of those who believes that poolies should see opportunity in Spezza this year is DobberHockey’s own Jeff Angus.
For those of you following Dobber’s Expert’s League, Spezza was taken by Angus in the fifth round. “I think it is a case of when, and not if, for Spezza and the 100 point mark,” said Angus.
“He gets an unfair rap from the fans in Ottawa. He won’t hit or play great defense, but he isn’t paid to do either of those things. Give him some skilled linemates and watch him dominate. I’ve always found him to be a player that drops well below his value in almost every single draft I have partaken in.”
So while the Senators may still be fighting they way out of the dark ages after their 2007 implosion, Jason Spezza may be a bright spot who’s best is yet to come.
And if not, well, maybe the Senators will abandon their creatively-empty ‘SENS’ sweater, and release a commemorative third jersey sporting Mike Duffy.
|Last Updated on Thursday, 30 September 2010 07:32|