A decision has been made in the Nation’s Capital with regards to whom will wear the “C” going forward, and the choice had to be a difficult one for management, with a 15 year team veteran and franchise players in the mix. After careful consideration, the best kept secret in the Ottawa sports community was revealed via Twitter just prior to, and made official during, a press conference at 3:00 p.m. today. Jason Spezza has been named the 8th captain in the history of the modern day Ottawa Senators. Ottawa’s first pick, and second overall selection in the 2001 NHL entry draft, has made great strides since then Coach Jacques Martin quipped “This is a man’s league and he’s still a boy.”
The second longest current serving Senator, with the trademark goofy laugh, is by all means ready to carry the torch in Ottawa. Long gone are the days of being shipped to the OHL and AHL respectively, due to defensive struggles. After 611 regular season, and 56 NHL playoff games, his career +/- stands at +79. With a 1.016 points per game average that ranks him 6th among active players, Spezza has proven he is one of the leagues elite offensive players. Having matured both on and off the ice, the Sens are in good shape under his tutelage as he enters his eleventh season with the club.
If, as recently reported, Spezza plays on a line with newly acquired Bobby Ryan and Milan Michalek, and can remain healthy, he could very well surpass his 92 point career high attained during the 2007-2008 season. Barring injury, he should also receive an invitation to the Team Canada camp, albeit late, after being snubbed when the original orientation camp roster was announced in July. Accomplishing either of the aforementioned tasks, SHOULD suffice in putting the Daniel Alfredsson saga to rest for most Ottawa Senators fans, and perhaps create a new chant at the 19:19 mark of each period at the Canadian Tire Centre in the process.
The selection of Spezza as captain over the longest serving, active Senator, Chris Phillips, may be bittersweet for some fans. Phillips admitted he wanted the role, yet was happy for his friend and teammate. Clearly the sentimental favourite, he was certainly a worthy candidate, however, age and contract expiration dates may have played a role in the decision. Spezza, at the age of 30, is locked up until the 2014-2015 season, with Phillips having only one year left on his deal at the age of 35. Regardless, with Spezza leading the team and Phillips continuing to lead one of the best group of D-Men in the league, the Senators have to be considered a serious contender for the 2013-2014 NHL campaign.