Saturday, July 04, 2009
Seems like we've written a lot of letters to Dany Heatley and his group of nitwits lately, so why not give a quick shout out to the 'other' Sens player most affected by the trade request. Here's our open letter to Sens top centre, Jason Spezza.
Boy, have you had an interesting off-season for someone that had no intention of being newsworthy. You aren't necessarily grabbing headlines (which might actually be a relief for you), but you have started to find your way back into conversations. What is different this time around is that instead of people angrily talking about your complacent backchecking or ill-advised passes, people are praising you for the maturity you have shown in both the Dany Heatley shenaningans and the Team Canada Orientation Camp snub.
At the height of popularity of the Pizza Line in the past few seasons, you were always seen as the goofy one, the one that was more about dipsy-doodles than about winning the big game. This was unfair of us, without question, but it was the reality of being lined up alongside our biggest hero in Daniel Alfredsson and our biggest scorer and national team fixture in Dany Heatley. Spotting 90 points in injury-plagued seasons wasn't enough for us, apparently.
But looking back over the years, there have been some critical moments that should have shown us how great you will truly become as an Ottawa Senator. Whether it was the maturity you displayed in handling the scorn of Jacques Martin in your early years or your patience in being asked the same questions week after week about any flaws we could find, you've always shown an ability to stand up and speak for yourself. Never have you hid from the camera and microphone, never have you asked your agent to do the talking for you.
And you've also had some spectacular 'team-first' moments on the ice. Game Two of the Buffalo series, you grinded your way to a critical faceoff win that got the puck back to Corvo for the winning goal. In a regular season game against those same Sabres this past February, you took a vicious hit in the offensive zone just to get a pass to your linemate, who scored a game-tying goal before we won in the shootout. And what about the time that you went after Dion Phaneuf after his rocking hit of your 'teammate' Dany Heatley in a late season loss to the Flames. My point is, we are so lucky that you've followed the leadership of Daniel Alfredsson and not Dany Heatley. Even though you and Heatley are magical on the ice together, what a shame it would have been had you developed his me-first attitude, as well. No, Jason, you are an Ottawa Senator!
Your comments this week show another step in your development as a leader here. Not only are you taking the silly Orientation Camp snub as motivation (others would take it as defeat), you are also showing incredible poise in commenting on Heatley. He is your teammate and good friend, but you fully acknowledge that he needs to move on and let you and your colleagues do the same. I love it!
With this new development in the roster, your role will undoubtedly change, as well. I'm not suggesting you're quite ready to adorn the 'A' in Heatley's absence as Mike Fisher probably should have worn it even last year. But we now have a clear path of who will take the torch from Alfie in the next few years. We are down to a manageable Two Superstar team - one in his mid-30s and one in his mid 20s. The old and the young. While our young prospects have watched in awe of Alfie over the years, they will begin to look to you for guidance. Jim O'Brien, Erik Karlsson, Patrick Wiercioch, Jared Cowen, Cody Bass, Peter Regin, even roster guys like Nick Foligno and Jesse Winchester - you are their motivator now. Both on the ice and off the ice, these guys will watch your every move to see how they should play and perform. Given your ability to step up and accept this role this summer, I know that those prospects are in great hands.
This is officially your first season as 'the man' in Ottawa, Jason. You'll look down the gauntlet of this pressure cooker every single night, without question. The same questions that Alfie has been fielding over the past decade about the team's struggles are now going to be asked to you. This is your chance to establish greatness in a city that so badly needs more heroes. We're fickle and we'll keep you in line should humility fly out the door from time to time. Don't take it personally as your teammate has done. If we didn't criticize you, it would mean that we had no expectations of you.
Jason, we can't wait for the season to get started. This is the longest off-season we've had in 12 years and has been filled with drama and distraction. Here's to hoping that you can jump into training camp and give us validation that this team is headed toward redemption. Play like the leader that you're becoming and we'll sing your praises and give you a key to the city. This will become your team, Spetz. Go ahead and begin that transition as Alfie hands you the torch over these next few seasons. We'll stand beside you every step of the way.
Ottawa Senators Fans.
Posted by Geoff at 10:49 AM