Senators center Spezza would embrace captaincy

Friday, 09.06.2013 / 4:19 PM
Dan Rosen  - Senior Writer

NEW YORK -- Ottawa Senators center Jason Spezza doesn't think anything about his game or his leadership style will change if coach Paul MacLean names him captain prior to the start of the 2013-14 season. But that's also the reason Spezza said he feels he's ready to be captain in his 11th NHL season after a long apprenticeship under Daniel Alfredsson.

"The last few years I've been expected to be a leader on our team and had to make some changes to different things," Spezza told Friday during the League's Player Media Tour. "I think leadership is something that comes naturally, and I feel like I'm naturally a leader in our dressing room. It's scarier if you're going to be appointed a role and you feel like you're not ready for it, but for me I feel like I wouldn't change too much."

MacLean told reporters in Ottawa last week he has no timetable for when he wants to name a replacement for Alfredsson, the Senators captain for the past 13 seasons before signing as a free agent with the Detroit Red Wings this summer. MacLean said he wants to talk over the candidates with general manager Bryan Murray and his coaching staff but feels no rush to get it done.

Spezza is considered a top candidate along with defenseman Chris Phillips. Forward Chris Neil also has drawn some captaincy buzz. Spezza said he has not spoken with MacLean about the vacant spot.

"We have a lot of confidence in the leadership group we have left," MacLean said. "It's not just one guy who's going to step up. One guy is going to represent as Daniel did with the captaincy, but leadership isn't just a one-person thing or a three-person thing. It's an everybody thing. With me, it's everybody. That's going to be the expectation."

Spezza said he feels the same way and it's been that way on the team for the past few seasons.

"We've always led by a group in Ottawa, especially more so in the last few years," he said. "Myself, Alfie and Chris Phillips have had a really young team around us the last couple of years, so we really have had to work together to lead things."

If Spezza does end up wearing the "C" on his sweater, he said he will take some of his queues from his experience with Alfredsson but won't be a carbon copy.

"Alfie as a captain was extremely consistent," Spezza said. "He was very even-keeled. He did a great job of when he practiced, he practiced hard. He was a good example for guys and a good role model. I'd want to be similar to him in that sense; guys always respected him. There are some things that obviously you'd do different, everybody has to put their own spin on things, but that's something I learned from Alfie, his even-keeled attitude and his consistency."

Even if MacLean chooses someone else to be captain, Spezza said his attitude heading into this season will not change. After missing 43 of 48 games in 2012-13 with a back injury that required surgery, he said he's never looked forward to the start of a season more than he is right now.

“You'd see guys [over the summer] and everybody was like, 'Oh, quick offseason,’” Spezza said. “For me, I'm like, 'This thing can't get started soon enough.' I was ready a month ago. I've skated more than ever this summer."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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