By Martin Iheke
I am sure you have heard by now that your Dallas Stars had a very busy but productive offseason. One of the big moves they made was trading for forward Jason Spezza from the Ottawa Senators. He is big and a very good skater at 6 feet 3 inches and 220 pounds. He fills a big need on the Stars roster. He will be the secondline center which will allow head coach Lindy Ruff to move forward Cody Eakin down to the third line and take some pressure off forwards Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn.
Spezza is used to being the No. 1 guy and the pressures that come with it. Coming down here to play for the Stars will not carry as much pressure especially now that he will not be “the guy,” but here to help the franchise win another Stanley Cup and he is okay with that.
“If you look around the league, the best teams have depth,” Spezza said according to dallasnews.com. “They can hurt you in more ways than one. That’s what I was looking for as a fit for me too, somewhere where I could go and be a part of the group and be just kind of a piece of the puzzle and add to it.
“If you look at the best teams in the league, they’re usually deep up the middle and have more than one line that can score on you so I hope I can bring that here.”
Spezza is used to being in the national spotlight as well, ever since he was little. At age 1, he won a baby contest that started his youth modeling career. He was the poster boy for Baby, a Broadway musical that played at Toronto’s O’Keefe Center when Spezza was 13 months old.
According to Canada.com, at age 4 he appeared in a Minute Maid commercial and two years later modeled clothes for K-Mart and Woolco. After that, he transitioned to the sport of hockey as he became a highly-touted prospect in Canada which led to the Senators selecting him with the second pick in the 2001 National Hockey League Draft. It was the only team he played for in his first 12 seasons before being traded to the Stars. He has played in 686 regular-season games with 251 goals and 436 assists. He has 17 goals and 35 assists in the postseason and led the Senators to the 2007 Stanley Cup Finals.
Spezza is a two-time all-star and was named the eighth captain for the franchise before last season. Despite this all, he became frustrated with the way things were going in Ottawa and ended up requesting a trade. On July 1 of this year, the Senators granted him his wish by sending him to the Stars and he could not be happier.
“I’m probably as excited as I’ve ever been going into a season,” Spezza told dallasnews.com. “It’s a different feeling being around the rink with a new group of guys and you kind of feel like a rookie again, you don’t know anybody and you want to get to know guys. But it’s an excitement that I’m happy to have.
“I wanted a change of scenery out of Ottawa and I’m thrilled to be a Dallas Star now. I think we’ve got a great young team and I think we can do some damage.”
That has to be quite the compliment for the Stars thanks to what owner Tom Gaglardi, general manager Jim Nill and Ruff are assembling here. The foundation they are building is catching a lot of attention from around the league.
“It’s definitely a team that got a lot of buzz and a lot of attention around last year after missing the playoffs for four or five years and I think it was a rejuvenation for the organization and Dallas used to be looked upon as one of the best places to play,” Spezza said. “Any team that has had Joe Nieuwendyk, Mike Modano and Brett Hull, you’re attracting top-notch players. I think the organization had it in them, went through some financial stuff but we hope we’re on the upswing now and can be one of those places that’s attractive to guys.”
Spezza, who has transitioned himself from being a baby model to an NHL all-star, is hoping he can be a part of a great team that will win a lot of Stanley Cups.