TORONTO – Senators forward Jason Spezza has dismissed speculation he wants to leave the NHL team, telling reporters Thursday he’s happy in Ottawa.
Rumours of the 26-year-old’s discontent have swirled around Ottawa since the Pittsburgh Penguins knocked the Senators from the first round of the playoffs in April. Spezza, who drew fire from fans for his performance in the post-season, has a no-trade clause that kicks in July 1.
“I don’t have a no-trade now, so if they trade you, then you get traded,” Spezza said. “Obviously, I’ve signed there, so I’m happy to be there. And we’re looking forward to the future.”
Spezza, who signed a seven-year contract extension reportedly worth US$49-million in 2007, has already held at least one meeting with Senators general manager Bryan Murray.
“I had a good conversation with Bryan,” Spezza said. “(I’m) trying to keep the conversation between the two of us. There’s always things to talk about the end of the year—just kind of airing out what I thought, and what he thought.”
While making an appearance in Toronto to promote a charitable endeavour to help underprivileged children play hockey, Spezza was asked, point-blank: “Do you want to go back to the Ottawa Senators?”
“Yeah,” he said, stammering before a media relations attache ended the line of questioning.
Spezza finished the regular season with 23 goals and 57 points in 60 games with the Senators. The former first-round draft pick had scored more than 30 goals in each of the previous three seasons, but could not escape the blame for Ottawa’s post-season capitulation to Pittsburgh.
He scored once and had six assists in the six-game series, but was also a minus-three.
“I got an impression that he was quite unhappy at the end,” Murray said in a recent interview with Rogers Sportsnet. “I think the coverage he felt he got and the fan reaction a couple of times left him kind of wanting a little bit. But I don’t think it’s anything beyond that. My next conversation with him will be away from the emotion of playoff time to see what we can do and what we have to do.”