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.

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    Report: Stars make more changes in goal, hire ex-Detroit coach Bedard

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    Suspect netminding has plagued Dallas for two straight years, and GM Jim Nill is switching things up accordingly.

    On the heels of acquiring Ben Bishop and signing him to a long-term contract, Nill has reportedly hired veteran goalie coach Jim Bedard, per In Goal Magazine.

    Bedard will replace longtime Dallas employee Mike Valley, who has been with the club since 2009 in a goalie coach/director of goaltending development role. In Goal reports that Valley told the club he wouldn’t be returning.

    Bedard, 60, was with Detroit from the mid-90s to last summer, when he was relived of his duties. His unemployment didn’t last long. Within weeks of being dismissed, Bedard caught on as the goalie coach for OHL Windsor,

    The connection to Dallas is quite obvious. Nill and Bedard worked together for years in Detroit, and won three Stanley Cups together.

    Related: Bishop has ‘good relationship’ with Hitch, and that’s important

     

     

    Penguins prepare for another Game 7, this time as favorites

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    Two weeks ago, the Pittsburgh Penguins played a Game 7 that the oddsmakers expected them to lose.

    But the Penguins didn’t lose. They went into Washington and shut out the Capitals to advance to the Eastern Conference Final.

    Which brings us to tomorrow, and another Game 7.

    This time, the game is in Pittsburgh. And this time, it’ll be the Penguins as favorites. 

    At online sportsbook Bovada, the Ottawa Senators are +170 underdogs, meaning a $100 bet on the Sens to win Game 7 would pay out $170. Conversely, to make $100 on a Penguins win, a bettor would have to risk $200.

    This is not to suggest that betting on Ottawa is the savvy move. It might be, given the potential payout, combined with the fact hockey games are often decided by a lucky bounce or hot goalie.

    But just remember: the Penguins beat Tampa Bay in Game 7 of last year’s Eastern Conference Final. The defending champs have proven their worth in these winner-take-all games.

    “It’s not something that’s new to them,” said head coach Mike Sullivan. “These guys have been involved in these experiences on a number of occasions, and they have those experiences to draw on. You know, I think they know what to expect, and now it’s a matter of going out and earning it and controlling what they can and doing your very best to get the result that we’re looking for.”

    Veteran forward Matt Cullen added, “We’ve been there before. We’ve gone through this. We know what to expect out of our group. We have a comfort level with our plan and the way that we need to play. These are the fun games to play. So as a group, we go into it with a lot of confidence, knowing that we’re going to need our best game and expecting that we’ll bring it.”

    For the record, Sens coach Guy Boucher has also experienced a Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final. It came in 2011 when he was coaching the Lightning, who fell to the eventual champs from Boston by the score of 1-0.

    Though it wasn’t the result he wanted, Boucher felt privileged to have had the experience.

    “It was a tough game,” he said. “It was 0-0 with seven minutes left in the game. It was quite a game and a lot of pressure. What I remember most is the excitement of an opportunity that very few people get in their lives, and I’m part of that. I can’t be blessed more than that.”

    Related: The modern-day Sens have never won a Game 7

    Weight ‘not afraid’ to say he wants ex-NHLers behind Isles bench

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    With the interim tag dropped, Isles head coach Doug Weight is in the midst of retooling his staff.

    It began last week, when Weight added longtime NHL defenseman — and former Oilers teammate — Luke Richardson as an assistant coach. That was followed by reports the Isles were interested in hiring another of Weight’s old teammates, Kelly Buchberger, as well as two-time Stanley Cup champion Scott Gomez.

    Buchberger was playing as recently as 2004, in Pittsburgh, where he was teammates with the likes of Marc-Andre Fleury and Brooks Orpik. Gomez suited up for 13 games in Ottawa last season.

    Clearly, there’s a trend at play here. Weight wants guys like him, veteran NHLers not far removed from their playing days (Weight hung ’em up in 2011). And he isn’t shying away from addressing it.

    “I’m not afraid to say it, it’s something I’m looking for and chasing,” Weight said, per the Post. “But that being said, I’m not just hiring guys who play 15 years or 20 years.

    “You have to sit with them, you have to see how they view the game, how they are, how they view the players, how I view the game.”

    Bob Corkum, a holdover from the Jack Capuano era, won’t be brought back as an assistant. The status of Greg Cronin, another holdover — and who never played in the NHL, it should be said — is still up in the air.

    Weight said he’s interviewed eight to 10 candidates to join his staff.

     

    Detroit signs Czech d-man Sulak

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    The Red Wings have added some depth on defense.

    On Wednesday, the club announced it has signed Czech rearguard Libor Sulak to a two-year, entry-level deal. Sulak, 23, is fresh off representing the Czechs at the World Hockey Championship and, prior to that, spent the last two years playing for Znojmo Orli of the Austrian League.

    There, he was named the league’s rookie of the year in 2016, and followed that up with a career-high 10 goals and 28 points in 54 games last season.

    It’ll be interesting to see if he can push for minutes in Detroit next season. Currently, the club has six d-men under contract — Mike Green, Danny DeKeyser, Niklas Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson, Nick Jensen and Ryan Sproul. Xavier Ouellet is also in the mix, but a restricted free agent.

    The Red Wings also signed ’16 first-rounder Dennis Cholowski to his ELC last month, and he played one game for their AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids.