Jason Spezza #19 of the Ottawa Senators shoots the puck against the Winnipeg Jets during an NHL game at Scotiabank Place on January 16, 2012 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
(January 15, 2012 - Source: Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images North America)

Spezza says so long, Switzerland

Jason Spezza’s Swiss adventure is over.

That’s the word out of Ottawa on Wednesday as Spezza informed his club team, Rapperswill-Jona, he’s headed back to North America.

More, from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun:

The Senators centre has informed the Rapperswill-Jona Lakers he will not be returning — at least for now — after winning the Spengler Cup with Team Canada Monday. He will return to Ottawa to see if there’s going to be a collective bargaining agreement in place for a shortened NHL season.

The Lakers confirmed on their website Wednesday morning that Spezza was on his way home because he’s confident the league and the NHLPA are going to get an agreement in place by the Jan. 19 deadline to resume playing.

Few locked-out NHLers have enjoyed a more successful European campaign than Spezza.

He joined Rapperswil early (mid-September), played a ton of hockey (29 games with the Lakers, four with Team Canada at the Spengler), racked up a ton of points (30, 11th in Swiss league scoring) and, perhaps most importantly, avoided injury.

All told, Ottawa could be in pretty solid shape when (if?) play resumes.

Spezza is just one on a long list of Senators that played extensively overseas during the work stoppage, joining Erik Karlsson, Kyle Turris, Erik Condra, Peter Regin, Colin Greening, Milan Michalek, Mike Lundin and Zack Smith.

Video: Dylan Larkin adds to his rookie goals lead

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So far, the 2015-16 crop of rookies is living up to the hype, if not exceeding it. Connor McDavid‘s unfortunate injury hasn’t even derailed this year’s crop.

The Detroit Red Wings are watching their own blue chip blossom, as Dylan Larkin is making an instant impact.

No. 71 scored his 10th goal of the season against the Florida Panthers on Sunday, fattening his rookie goals lead.

He still needs five points to match rookie points leader Artemi Panarin, though.

Latest report leaves Carey Price’s injury timeline fuzzy

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There’s one thing we seem to know about Carey Price‘s injury situation: he first got hurt stepping on a puck on Oct. 29, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

Contrary to earlier reports about him missing about a month, it sounds like his window of recovery is still up in the air (which, to be fair, could mean that he’ll still miss about a month when it’s all said and done).

ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that Price underwent testing with Montreal’s team doctor on Saturday and is expected to go through more; we may not know more about his expected injury timeline until early this coming week.

So, basically, Price’s situation is fuzzier than his mustache right now.

Leg injuries can be tricky anyway, so we shouldn’t be too surprised that there are mixed signals regarding Price, and this may remain a fluid situation for some time.

(But we’ll hopefully know more soon enough.)

Lightning lament life as a .500 team

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The Tampa Bay Lightning have plenty of time to rise above mediocrity, yet it still must be deserving to finish at .500 for two straight months.

After last night’s 3-2 loss to the New York Islanders, that’s exactly where they find themselves:

Record at the end of October: 5-5-2

Record at the end of November: 11-11-3

As of this writing, the Lightning found themselves on the outside looking in at the playoff picture. It all stands as a pretty tough thing for the reigning Eastern Conference champs to swallow.

The uncomfortable-yet-vital question is: can the Lightning break out of this funk?

Looking at their schedule, it won’t be easy, at least not right away.

They crawl through California during a three-game road trip to start December, and they also face six of eight on the road from Dec. 2 – 18.

The Lightning soak up home dates to finish 2015 after that, but what damage will be done by then?

Frankly, the Bolts will need to dig deep to break this pattern. If nothing else, they’ve fought with their backs against the wall before.

Dubinsky won’t change, and he won’t go easy on Crosby


Sometimes a suspension will shame a player, or at least inspire him to change the way he plays.

That apparently won’t happen regarding Brandon Dubinsky‘s one-game timeout session for cross-checking Sidney Crosby.

Dubinsky told Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch that he won’t alter his style, whether it’s against Crosby or someone else.

“Nope,” Dubinsky said. “You know, I’ve played the same way my whole career and I’m not going to change. The next time I have an opportunity to play (Crosby), I’m going to play him hard.”

In case you’re wondering, that next opportunity comes on Dec. 21 in Pittsburgh, assuming that both players are healthy and not suspended.

One can understand Dubinsky’s perspective, although such honesty would be that much more interesting if there’s another incident with Crosby. His initial reaction to the hit was interestingly candid, admitting that his “stick rode up” on his adversary.

Would that stance – which, from a harsher view, might seem flippant to Dubinsky’s critics – open the door for a bigger future bit of a discipline?

Maybe, maybe not … but at least his comments aren’t as inflammatory as what John Tortorella said (at least on the record).