Turns out that Jason Spezza never wanted to be traded from Ottawa

jasonspezza3.jpgRemember all that talk in the last few months about how Jason Spezza wanted to be traded out of Ottawa and create a potentially Dany Heatley-esque situation for the second straight summer for the Senators? Yeah… Turns out that Jason Spezza never wanted anything of the sort. Wayne Scanlan of The Ottawa Citizen gets word right from the man himself and boy has he got a lot to say.

“I just want to clear up a lot of the talk going on, at no point did I ever demand a trade to Bryan Murray,” Spezza said. “I’ve seen a lot of what’s been written and talked about.

“At the end of the year, I was pretty emotional and upset. I was upset at losing, I was upset at response I got (booed at home), I talked to Bryan about — I see it in the newspapers every year, they talk about me, and I said, if you want to move you can move me . . . if you think it’s best for the team.”

“He told me he wasn’t going to move me and that was the understanding I was under.

“I wanted to make sure I did what was best for the team, and he did what was best for the team.

“Seems like every year, it’s ‘should I get traded, should I not get traded,’ it gets to the point where you’re sick of it a little bit.

“But my priorities are here in Ottawa. I want to win in Ottawa. I have great friends here. We have great roots here. My family enjoys it. I’m close to home.

“I’m excited that we’re moving forward, and some of the moves we’ve made.”

I’m sure some Sens fans would hope that Spezza would use some of that fire and anger he’s got for where the rumors come from and use it on the ice so that he doesn’t get abused by Sidney Crosby during the playoffs again. As far as Spezza’s ability to handle the, ahem, tough fans in Ottawa and how it felt getting booed, maybe he just needs a post-game hug now and again.

“It’s tough when you’re trying. I was trying. Trying to score. Trying to get us to win. I thought we had a good team. You get booed a little bit. We’re human, it definitely hurts you a little bit. I understand it’s part of the game. More than anyone I’ve put up with a lot, and been able to overcome a lot through my career here. I understand that with the good comes the bad, and al that. I was emotional at the end of the year, I was upset that we lost. I thought the team had a good chance to win, especially in the east.

“It’s disappointing when you get booed like that at home. But it’s part of the game and I’ll move forward.”

It’s pretty amazing to see a guy take things so much to heart, especially when he’s not even the captain of the team. Then again, if it was Sens captain Daniel Alfredsson having these kinds of emotional outburts, you have to wonder if that would make Sens fans freak out. Spezza’s been a bit of an easy target through his career in Ottawa as he’s got huge talent but is always the second or third banana when it comes to stardom in Canada’s capital city. Perhaps it’s almost better that way.

Scroll Down For:

    Gaborik unlikely to be ready for start of training camp

    Getty Images
    2 Comments

    Marian Gaborik‘s recovery from a non-surgical procedure to address his “chronic” knee issue will likely bleed into training camp.

    “He’s progressing pretty well from the summer,” Kings GM Rob Blake told LA Kings Insider. “He still has some difficulty with some of the lifts and the strength. We’re probably not sure if we’ll see him in training camp right away, but again, he’s a guy that trains at a very high level and he’s made a commitment to stay in L.A. after he got married, get the rehab back on course. We’re hopeful he can get back to the level that he started last season and the World Cup at.”

    Gaborik has been an elite scorer at times during his career, but injuries have been a recurring issue for him. Over the past four seasons he’s played in 220 of a possible 328 contests and he’s been limited to 43 points in 110 games over the last two campaigns.

    That’s particularly worrying given that the 35-year-old forward still has four seasons left on his seven-year contract worth roughly $34 million. At the same time a bounce back campaign out of Gaborik would go a long way towards addressing the offensive woes Los Angeles endured in 2016-17.

    Under Pressure: Jaroslav Halak

    Getty Images
    1 Comment

    This post is a part of Islanders day at PHT…

    No goaltender went through a season that could be more accurately called a roller coaster than Jaroslav Halak.

    The veteran netminder entered the campaign immediately following a superb showing in the World Cup, but he struggled in the first half of the season to the point where he cleared waivers and was then sent to the minors on Dec. 31. Rather than fade away though, he got a second wind in the AHL. That led to him being called up on March 23 and shining in the finals weeks of the campaign.

    So after all that, what’s next for Halak? Will he excel like he did towards the end of the season, struggle like he did at the beginning, or end up being wildly inconsistent yet again?

    He’s down to the final season of his four-year, $18 million deal and Thomas Greiss has emerged as a strong alternative for the starting gig with the Islanders. Greiss is entering the first season of a three-year, $10 million deal, so he is more firmly established as part of the Islanders’ plan than Halak, but Greiss’ contract isn’t so expensive or long-term that the Islanders can’t re-sign Halak too if the situation calls for it. Especially if Halak were to step up and become a major part of guiding the Islanders back into the postseason after their disappointing 2016-17 showing.

    What the presence of Greiss does though is give Halak little leeway in order to reestablish himself as that type of goaltender. If Halak even has a bad October, he might find himself set more clearly in the backup role beyond that.

    Perhaps the Islanders are looking to Greiss as their future though and have little interest in Halak beyond this season. Maybe they would prefer a younger and/or cheaper pairing with Greiss once given the flexibility that Halak’s contract expiring affords them. Even in that scenario, this would still be a critical season for Halak as he’ll need a strong showing in order for him to find a gig elsewhere. After all, it wasn’t long ago that the entire league said they didn’t want his contract and while he’s bounced back since then, he still needs to prove this season that he’s worth a new deal.

    The goaltender market is always a tough one, especially for those seeking a starting job, but for a great netminder that’s a nonissue. Halak has played at that level at various points of his career. He needs more than ever to be that goaltender again.

    Gallant thinks Golden Knights can ‘win and compete consistently’ during inaugural season

    Getty
    2 Comments

    What can we expect from the Vegas Golden Knights in 2017-18? No one really knows what they’ll look like once they hit the ice because they’ve never played together before.

    Of course, the expectation is that they’ll be bad, which is fair considering the track record expansion teams have in pro sports. But are they gonna be “Colorado bad” or will they be able to hold their own more often than not?

    “I knew we were going to have a pretty decent team, but the team was better than I thought,” head coach Gerard Gallant said, per NHL.com. “I thought we got better top-end players than I thought we’d get.

    “So I think we did a real good job building our team. Is it good enough to win and compete consistently? I think it is.”

    Through the expansion draft, Gallant’s team was able to find themselves a quality number one goalie in Marc-Andre Fleury and a relatively young backup in Calvin Pickard.

    After parting ways with defensemen like Alexei Emelin and Marc Methot, the Golden Knights are left with solid options like Nate Schmidt, Shea Theodore, Colin Miller, and veterans like Jason Garrison, Luca Sbisa and Brayden McNabb. That’s a decent group for an expansion side.

    Up front is where things get a little more complicated. They signed Russian free agent Vadim Shipachyov and picked James Neal, David Perron and Reilly Smith during the expansion draft, but they’re also light on scoring depth.

    “There’s going to be issues,” added the Golden Knights head coach. “Some nights we’re going to have trouble scoring goals. You look at our roster, there’s a lot of good players. Are there any superstars there?”

    It’ll be interesting to see how Vegas’ first year in the NHL will unfold under Gallant and general manager George McPhee’s watch.

    Poll: Will John Tavares re-sign with the Islanders?

    Getty
    4 Comments

    This post is part of Islanders Day on PHT…

    Is this going to be the last year we see John Tavares in a New York Islanders uniform?

    That will likely be the question that surrounds the Islanders as long as Tavares is around and he hasn’t signed a long-term extension with the only club he’s ever played for.

    The Tampa Bay Lightning went through this a couple of years ago with Steven Stamkos. In the end, the sniper opted to remain with the club that drafted him. Will Tavares do the same thing? Only time will tell. But what happens if Tavares doesn’t sign before the trade deadline?

    The Bolts had to chose between keeping Stamkos for a playoff push and risk losing him for nothing, or trading him for a few assets to make sure they got something to show for him. The situation worked out well for Lightning GM Steve Yzerman.

    Players like Tavares rarely make it to free agency, which is why it could be tempting for him to wait until July 1st to see what he could fetch on the open market.

    The 26-year-old holds all the cards. He’s already said that he’s in no hurry to sign a new contract extension.

    “For me, there’s really no rush,” Tavares told Newsday last week. “I’m trying to determine things, let the process run its course, keep the lines of communication open, keep it all internal and it’s been good so far . . . In terms of signing a new contract, there’s a lot that goes into it. To really dive into all the details, get into all the conversations I’ve had with Garth [Snow], the team and Doug [Weight], I don’t think it’s productive to the situation and the negotiating. I prefer to keep it all internal, that’s the best way to keep it all open, honest and healthy.”

    Since he joined the Islanders as an 18-year-old in 2009-10, he hasn’t exactly been surrounded by incredible talent. Sure, New York has had some quality players on their roster, but they’ve always leaned heavily on Tavares.

    This summer, they traded away inconsistent forward Ryan Strome to the Oilers for proven scorer Jordan Eberle, who could see some time on Tavares’ wing. Will it be enough to convince him to stay?

    The biggest difference between the Tavares/Stamkos situation, is that Stamkos expected to Lightning to be very competitive over the next few years (yes, they missed the playoffs this year, but the future still looks bright). Can the Islanders superstar expect the same from his organization?

    Many have already speculated that he could decide to sign with his hometown team, the Toronto Maple Leafs. Even though the Leafs have plenty of talented forwards on their roster, they could still benefit from having a guy like no. 91 around.

    Will he stay or will he go? Let us know what you think by voting in the poll below. Feel free to leave your opinion in the comments section.