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Spezza will have 'split duty role' for Stars: report

Hitchcock says Hanzal will play center in first season with Dallas

NHL.com @NHL

Jason Spezza will play a little at center and a little at left wing for the Dallas Stars this season, coach Ken Hitchcock told The Dallas Morning News this week.

The Stars have a bit of a logjam at center on their scoring lines after signing Martin Hanzal as a free agent July 1.

"To me, Hanzal is a center," Hitchcock said in a Q&A published Friday. "The role Jason will have is a split duty role, and if I play Spezza on the wing, it will be a left wing. Jason will play a lot of center and some wing."

Hitchcock said he does not plan to play Spezza with Hanzal.

"You could see [Radek] Faksa on a line with Hanzal," he said. "I think those two could fit well together."

Video: 31 in 31: Dallas Stars 2017-18 season preview

Hitchcock has committed to playing Tyler Seguin as the No. 1 center, likely between Jamie Benn and free agent acquisition Alexander Radulov, after he spent much of last season at right wing. Hanzal has never played on the wing in his NHL career.

Hitchcock welcomes the depth he has at center.

"We need to start with the puck, so [Spezza is] definitely going to be taking draws on his strong side. ... This team was third in the League in players winning draws on their natural side (last season), and we're going to use that aspect," he said. "We should have situations where we have a lefty and a righty, and that should help us. You have to start with the puck, so faceoffs will be really important to us."

Seguin and Spezza are right-handed, and Hanzal is a lefty.

Dallas was 34-37-11 and missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season after finishing with the top record in the Western Conference in 2015-16 (50-23-9). Hitchcock was hired April 13 to replace Lindy Ruff as coach. In addition to signing Hanzal and Radulov (July 3), they acquired defenseman Marc Methot in a trade from the Vegas Golden Knights on June 26.

Tweet from @dmn_stars: "This is the most fun time to be a coach ..."A Q&A with @DallasStars head coach Ken Hitchcock. | @MikeHeika https://t.co/TRnUxlzgPC

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