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Spezza could miss up to two months

Wednesday, 12.16.2009 / 4:45 PM / News

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Ottawa center Jason Spezza was already having a rough season statistically, but now he won't be able to do anything about it for what could be two months. Plus, he's lost any hope, at least what remained of it, of making Canada's Olympic team.

The Senators announced Wednesday that an MRI revealed Spezza tore the medial collateral ligament in his right knee when Toronto's Lee Stempniak fell on him with 30 seconds left in Ottawa's 3-2 loss to the Maple Leafs on Monday. Spezza is expected to be out between six and eight weeks.

Spezza was a long shot for Team Canada anyway due to his slow start (5 goals and 14 assists for 19 points and a minus-5 rating in 30 games). However, he received a late invite to the Canadian Olympic Orientation Camp, so he was on Hockey Canada's radar.

"They're kind of giving me that as a timeline right now, but I'm just going to see how it goes and obviously try and get back a little sooner," Spezza told reporters Wednesday morning. "It's obviously disappointing and whenever you get hurt, it's never a good thing."

The good news is Spezza won't need surgery.

"He plays 19 and a half, 20 minutes a game," Senators coach Cory Clouston said Wednesday. "He draws attention, he opens up space. It's easy to say he hasn't played that well, but he will be missed."

The Senators recalled Josh Hennessy from the AHL's Binghamton Senators and he could be in the lineup Wednesday night when they host Buffalo. Ottawa is already missing forwards Chris Neil and Shean Donovan. Like Spezza, both are out with knee injuries.

Jesse Winchester is expected to take Spezza's spot on the top line between Daniel Alfredsson and Milan Michalek against the Sabres. The Senators are third in the Northeast Division and seventh in the Eastern Conference with 36 points (16-12-4).

"(Winchester) did a great job when (Mike) Fisher missed a couple of games," Clouston said according to the team's Website. "He played with (Alex) Kovalev and I thought they did a very good job. He's shown he's able to give us some real good minutes and he'll still kill penalties for us. The way he plays can't change but his role will change. He's going to get a lot more minutes playing with different players."

Spezza hasn't produced at the point-per-game clip we're used to seeing from him this season, but he scored in each of the last two games and three of the last five. The timing of this injury is even worse considering his game was starting to come around.

"It's a big stretch of the season, but we've just got to move on," Spezza said. "Our team has been successful because everybody has chipped in at different times. It's just going to continue, I'm sure."

Contact Dan Rosen at drosen@nhl.com
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