Spezza, who has been Ottawa's No. 1 center for much of his 10-year NHL career, was the No. 2 pick in the 2001 NHL Draft and fulfilled his promise in becoming one of the League's top offensive players. He will replace Daniel Alfredsson, who was given the "C" in 1999 and was the NHL's longest-tenured captain before leaving for the Detroit Red Wings as a free agent this offseason.
"It's definitely nice to get the recognition to become a captain," Spezza told the team's website Saturday. "I've made a conscious effort to become more of a leader. I think I've come by it more naturally over the last few years and I'm excited. Coming full circle would probably be winning a Stanley Cup and hopefully we have a chance to do that."
Spezza has 228 goals, 393 assists and 621 points in his career. All of those figures are second to Alfredsson in Ottawa's franchise record book. Spezza can move into the top five in games played during the 2013-14 season.
"Jason's leadership skills, both on and off the ice, have continued to grow and develop throughout his tenure in Ottawa," Senators general manager Bryan Murray said in a statement. "He has developed into more than just a player with tremendous skill, to a player who can provide direction in all facets of the game."
Spezza, 30, will be the eighth player to wear the "C" in a game for the Senators, with four of them from the first two seasons of the franchise. Alfredsson and Randy Cunneyworth (1995-1998) are the two to spend more than one season as captain.
"Alfie has always been a very calm guy, he's a very clear thinker, he practiced really hard when he practiced, he was always looking for input on how he could do a better job," Spezza said. "Those are all strong qualities. Now I kind of get a chance to put my stamp on things."
Spezza missed most of the 2012-13 season with a back injury. He had two goals and five points in five games and was able to return during the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs to play in three games against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
He tied a career-high with 34 goals in 2011-12, and his 84 points were his most since 2007-08.
Though Alfredsson is gone, the Senators added Bobby Ryan in a trade and Clarke MacArthur via free agency. Ottawa has reached the postseason each of the past two years, and is expected to be among the top teams in the Eastern Conference again in 2013-14.
"Obviously now being the captain you're looked at every day, you're expected to answer the tough questions and you're expected to be an example every day, but these are things I think I've tried to do along the way and something I think I've matured into," Spezza said. "It's maybe not as scary as it would have been but it's definitely a challenge and I'm excited."
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