For the season year in a row, one of the Ottawa Senators top guys is talking about how much he is disappointed with playing in Ottawa. This time, it's Jason Spezza, who has been revealed to be unhappy right now with being a Senator and pretty much being the guy that the blame goes to in terms of the offensive woes that plagued the Sens this past year. While Spezza does get a hard time from the Ottawa faithful, how much do you really want him to do.....oh, right-- score more than 57 points and actually find a way to stay healthy.
Granted, he does have better than a point-per-game clip in his career and did say that he's actually happy to play in Ottawa during a scrum on Thursday-- but it does remind many Sens fans of the fiasco that happened last summer with Dany Heatley and ultimately saw the Sens not get much out of the trade, but it was the best they could get. The same could be said for Spezza, who's no-trade clause doesn't kick in until July 1st, as he has five years left on his contract at a cap-hit of $7M; something that many teams won't be able to shoulder.
Depending on who you talk to, the story will change. Mentioned sentences earlier, Spezza said he was happy. All the while, TSN's Bob McKenzie said that Spezza told GM Bryan Murray he was fed up with being the "whipping boy" for the Senators woes up-front, which is a fair point. Last season, Spezza missed 22 games and really couldn't be the end-all, be-all for the Sens issues scoring; but in '08-'09, his 73 points in a full season does send off alert-bells when it comes to the long-term. And while Heatley's departure did leave a gap in the arsenal for the Senators, that's a time where someone like Spezza could have stepped it up and been the superstar. Though, one thing in McKenzie's piece about Spezza having a rough playoff year-- I'd take a point-per-game stat, albeit in seven playoff games.
Yet another thing that makes me worry-- especially as a Sens fan-- is the fact that it seems Ottawa is slowly become Edmonton East, as it seems not many guys want to be in Canada's capital as one many believe. When you have the "super" stars of the team not wanting to be there, you have to wonder what internal issues there has to be with the organization. While the likes of Daniel Alfredsson and Chris Phillips have pretty much stayed there for their career thus far, you have to wonder if they'd get as much press or money elsewhere if not in Ottawa-- which is the cause for them staying there. I'm glad they're there and that they have guys who will have their numbers retired as full-time Senators or somewhat lifers in the town.
With all of that, the angle you have to take is what will happen at the end of all of this. The Dany Heatley thing is still very fresh in the minds of people in Ottawa and this is a eerily similar situation. While Spezza would probably get a rejuvenation from a new postal code, the contract he has would be a rough one to move. The Senators would have to do a lot of work to sweeten the pot for someone to take the center. After the issues last year, Murray probably doesn't want to be undercut like he was last season in the Heatley deal. Granted, it may be the only thing that Murray can get-- less than face value to take a big contract and upset player off his hands.
At the same time, I'm sure a team like the Columbus Blue Jackets could be a nice destination for Spezza, as it would give them someone to be the top-line center to play with Rick Nash on the top line and be more effective. Granted, that could give them two underachieving, oft-injured forwards-- but if they're on, they'd be a force to be reckoned with.
The turmoil in the summer in Ottawa seems to be the annual thing-- first with Ray Emery, then Heatley, now Spezza. This situation really depends on how you look at it, as Spezza is saying one thing; Murray's camp is claiming another-- somewhere in between, the truth lies. The heckling and jeering is something that will wear on anyone, but I would think it would wear on Spezza especially after the issues he had in order to actually break the everyday line-up under Jacques Martin regime and then having the crowd turn on him as quickly as they did. It is all about "what have you done for me lately" in the terms of sports and Spezza is the latest casualty to it. In the end, if Spezza is on the Sens roster come opening night-- the focal point will be how he plays after this disagreement has played out like it has and if he'll play well enough to get teams interested and make him move his NTC or if he'll dog it and be the goat everyone says he is while collecting a large paycheck at the same time.
Let the Spezz-Watch begin.