OTTAWA – The Ottawa Senators put an end to speculation and officially named Jason Spezza as its captain Saturday afternoon.
The announcement came as no real surprise as Spezza was the odds-on favourite to take over the captaincy after Daniel Alfredsson chose to sign with the Detroit Red Wings as a free agent in July.
“This is a huge honour for both myself and my family,” said Spezza, as he read from a prepared statement. “It’s something that is very important to me.”
Spezza becomes the eighth captain in franchise history and admitted wearing the “C” is a dream come true.
“For me I’ve always dreamed of being a captain,” said Spezza, who missed most of last season with a back injury. “My main goal is to try to win the Stanley Cup and that’s something that I’ve always wanted. I take the game of hockey very seriously and I like being able to help my teammates.
“I like being able to push myself and try to become a better player everyday.”
Being the face of the franchise is an honour and a challenge that Spezza says he is looking forward to.
Spezza said that having had the opportunity to play alongside Alfredsson and experiencing the highs and lows of a professional career have allowed him time to grow as both a player and a person.
“I feel like its come naturally, I feel like it’s not something that’s been forced upon me and that gives me the confidence to know that I can do a good job.”
With over 600 games and 621 career points, Spezza is the second longest serving member of the Senators. Chris Phillips, who was also in strong contention to take over the captaincy, holds the distinction of being the longest serving member.
Phillips will remain an alternate captain, with Chris Neil joining the leadership group as the second alternate.
Both Neil and Phillips were drafted by Ottawa and have spent their entire NHL careers with the Senators.
“The Ottawa Senators have a history of strong leaders, strong captains and we believe that will continue today,” said Senators general manager Bryan Murray. “This year’s team we believe will be one of the youngest if not the youngest in the NHL so having a strong leadership corps headed by our captains is going to be very, very critical if we’re going to be successful.”
Head coach Paul MacLean admitted the fact that Spezza has spent his entire career in Ottawa was a significant reason the team selected him as the new captain.
The 30-year-old Spezza was the Senators’ first-round pick (second overall) in the 2001 NHL Draft. He has registered four 30-goal seasons and two 90-plus point campaigns.
The Mississauga, Ont., native has represented Canada on six different occasions, and has earned five medals at various international tournaments throughout his career.