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Five Questions: Stars' Spezza Talks Move to Dallas

by Dan Rosen / Dallas Stars

NHL.com's Q&A feature called "Five Questions With …" runs every Tuesday. We talk to key figures in the game and ask them questions to gain insight into their lives, careers and the latest news.

The latest edition features Dallas Stars center Jason Spezza:

One of the biggest differences in Jason Spezza's daily routine in Dallas compared what he used to do in Ottawa is also one of the most private.

Spezza, who is in his first season with the Dallas Stars after 11 seasons with the Ottawa Senators, listens to more sports talk radio while alone in his car now than he ever did in Canada's capital city. The reason is simple, and obvious: He doesn't hear his name nearly as often anymore.

"I listen to (Dallas) Cowboys talk on my way to the rink," Spezza said. "It's refreshing, I can tell you that."

Once he's at the rink, though, Spezza insists nothing about his preparation and the pressure he's under is different. Sure, there is less media scrutiny in Dallas than he's used to, but that doesn't change his job, which is to help the Stars become a legitimate Stanley Cup contender this season.

In addition, Spezza is in the final season of his contract, so he's playing to further secure his future as well.

He's off to a strong start with seven points in five games, including four points while playing with Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn in Dallas' 6-5 overtime loss against the Philadelphia Flyers this past Saturday. The Stars (2-1-2) play Tuesday against the Vancouver Canucks.

"There's still a lot of internal pressure on me," Spezza said. "We have a good team that people expect to do well, so I can't say I feel less pressure. There's maybe less day to day grind of media and overanalyzing, that kind of stuff, but I still feel pressure to perform. That doesn't change. The losses hurt just as much in Texas as they did in Ottawa."

Spezza talked more about the adjustment he and his family have had to make to his new team and city in this Q&A with NHL.com.

Here are Five Questions with … Jason Spezza:

Obviously it's a major adjustment going from Ottawa to Dallas, so what has it been like for you? Has it been strange, different, challenging? How would you describe the adjustment?

"I would say it's all of the above.

"The strange is starting to wear off. It's definitely starting to become more routine now that I've been to the game rink a bunch and been around the guys a lot. Once you start playing more and more games you start feeling more comfortable, so the strange is starting to go away.

"It's challenging just trying to get to know everybody on the team and what their tendencies are, where they like to stand on the ice. Everybody has their things they like to do, so that's a bit of a challenge for me, figure out guys' tendencies.

"And it's been exciting. Just being on a new team it just feels like the excitement is really in my game. I'm trying to make sure I'm pushing myself to do well and to really help the club."

When you go to a new team you can get a refresh and, as you said, it's been exciting. Do you feel different than you did in Ottawa? Do you feel healthier, energized? Is it just a mindset when you get a new start somewhere else?

"It is rejuvenating. It's exciting. It's exciting to come to the rink. It's a new challenge. When you're with a team for so long like I was to move on is a big deal. It was something I felt was the right thing to do, and now that I'm here I want to make sure I'm making the most of it.

"I've made a big sacrifice, a big change in my life to move on and get rid of all the comfort you get by being in the same spot that is really nice to have. For me to want to move on, I want to make sure I'm making the most of it."

Who has helped you the most in getting comfortable? Have you talked to anybody, even former teammate Daniel Alfredsson, who last season did what you're doing now?

"You know I've tried not to lean on too many people outside the dressing room. A guy like Shawn Horcoff has been really good to me here, especially with the initial stuff when I got to town. He's a guy who did a similar thing; he was in Canada for a long time and moved on. I knew him from World Championship and if you know him he's a great guy and he's got great opinions on things, so he has been helpful. But I really wanted to go through this myself. I didn't want anybody's opinion to cloud anything. I wanted to learn it all myself and really try to make the most of the experience. Sometimes when you start asking too many people for their opinions your judgment gets clouded before you get into it."

How has it been for you learning Lindy Ruff's style and how he wants things done?

"That's been really nice to have a veteran coach, a coach who has been around for a long time and has been through a lot of different things with one organization. He's mentioned to me that he's relatively new to Dallas too. He went through a similar thing, being the coach in Buffalo for so long and coming to Dallas. Lindy has been great with me so far. There has been good communication. There hasn't been overcommunication, which I've kind of appreciated because sometimes you're fearful that you're too worried about everything. Maybe I was guilty of that the first few games. You're thinking so much about the system and suddenly you forget to play. Lindy has been great with me. He has things he'd like to see me do, but for the most part he's allowed me to play and put me in good situations. I respect what he's done as a coach so it's nice to have him as a coach."

Your family as well, how has the move been on your wife and kids, going from Ottawa to Dallas? How has your wife handled the move and helped you out?

"I'd say it's gone as smooth as it can go. There are always bumps in the road and different things, but my wife has been great. The day we got traded she was looking to get us a place, taking care of all the off-ice stuff. Basically when I got here everything was set up. We had our house rented. Everything was in place. It just allowed me to worry about the rink and getting myself comfortable. I'm pretty fortunate that she's dealt with the kids and getting everybody organized. It's gone smooth, and there's a lot to be done when you've been in the same place for a long time. It's a big change."


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