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Senators' Spezza finds offseason motivation

Wednesday, 08.07.2013 / 6:20 PM / NHL Insider

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Senators' Spezza finds offseason motivation
Ottawa Senators center Jason Spezza has plenty of motivation for the upcoming season. He's coming off an injury-plagued season and could replace Daniel Alfredsson as captain.

Ottawa Senators center Jason Spezza does not have to look hard to find offseason motivation.

He's coming off an injury-shortened season, his team is thought to be worse off because Daniel Alfredsson is gone, he could replace his former teammate as captain, and he was left off the preliminary roster for Canada's Olympic team.

Alfredsson signed with the Detroit Red Wings as a free agent this summer after 17 seasons in Ottawa, 13 as captain, 10 with Spezza.

"I think we feel like we have a really good team, and I don't think I agree with the assessment that [Detroit is] in a much better place than us to win," Spezza said Wednesday in a radio interview, via the Senators' website. "We've made some good acquisitions, and his decision was made on what he felt was best for him personally. We feel strongly about our group here and we think we've made some big strides."

Those strides could be made with Spezza, 30, as the new captain.

"If you ask any player, you'd love to have the distinction of being captain of your club," Spezza told Team 1200. "It's something that I pride myself on being a leader in our room, and we've always led as a group leadership core. I think it'll continue that way whether it's me or someone else as captain.

"I feel like I'm one of the leaders on our team that has to be good night in and night out and make sure things are running smoothly in the room and take a lot of responsibility with how I'm playing."

Alfredsson's scoring will be replaced, in part, by forward Bobby Ryan, who was acquired in a trade with the Anaheim Ducks on July 5.

"He's a heck of an addition for our club," Spezza said. "... He'll bring a different element to our team that maybe we haven't had in a few years. To get a guy at his age [26] that's in the prime of his career that feels like he's got a bit more to give ... I talked to him he's really excited about coming and I think there's a lot of things I think I can probably help him along with to make him a better player."

Spezza missed almost all of 2012-13 with a back injury; he played five games to start the regular season and was able to return for three games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, where the Senators lost in the second round to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

"I feel great, and the only impact it has had on my training is it's making me feel really motivated to make sure I'm coming to camp in great shape and excited to go," he said. "I can't remember having the excitement coming towards a season like I have right now for a long time just because of the time that I've missed."

The injury could be part of the reason Spezza, the fourth-leading scorer in the NHL in 2011-12, was not included on Canada's preliminary roster for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The team will have 25 forwards at its orientation camp later this month.

"I was a little bit surprised, but as these things are and you don't control how they pick these teams or what," Spezza said. "Like I said, I was pretty motivated going into this season because I had missed all of last year and I'd say this has definitely added to it a little bit."

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