Jason Spezza announced his retirement from the NHL on Sunday, but it sounds like he won’t be going far. Spezza and the Maple Leafs noted that he’ll join the team’s front office as a “special assistant” to GM Kyle Dubas.
For what can often be stuffy team releases, Dubas’ statement feels especially heartfelt.
“It is difficult to describe just how much of a lasting and positive impact that Jason Spezza made in his three seasons with the Maple Leafs,” Dubas said in the release. “Jason’s passion for the game of hockey, his desire to continuously push himself and his teammates to improve, as well as his capacity to make strong connections with all members of the organization, have been invaluable. Though today marks the end of his tenure with us as a player, it is a pleasure to have him join our front office to impart all that he has to offer.”
Let’s look at a lengthy career for Jason Spezza. At the end of this post, check out Spezza’s statement regarding his decision to retire.
Looking back at Jason Spezza’s NHL career after retirement announcement
Spezza would probably say the first thing that stings about retirement is that he never won a Stanley Cup.
It’s also a small shame how close he finished to an impressive milestone. Over 1,248 regular season games, Jason Spezza fell just short of 1,000 career points. Instead, he ended up scoring 363 goals and 632 assists for 995 points.
Jason Spezza is an absolute animal. was an entrenched veteran who took every single optional skate. worked out for like 90 mins after every game. handled his diminishing role this year with more grace than I thought possible. just exactly who you want a hockey player to be.
— Mike Stephens (@mikeystephens81) May 29, 2022
During three seasons with the Maple Leafs, he made the most of his opportunities. Hovering around 11 minutes per game, Spezza generated 25 points twice, and 30 in 2020-21. He developed a knack for scoring some big goals, too.
Spezza showed a ton of drive, and if the pettiness of Mike Babcock scratching him in a home-opener against the Senators bothered him, he didn’t show it much.
The passion Jason Spezza continued to bring in the later stages of a career that saw him go from a NHL star to a fourth liner was admirable. The grace he displayed when scratched said a lot about him, too.
May we all find something we love as much as Spezza loved playing hockey.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) May 29, 2022
Spezza’s peak years with Senators, also played for the Stars
Of course, Spezza’s peak years happened with some outstanding Ottawa Senators teams.
Over 11 seasons and 686 games played with the Senators, Spezza finished with 687 points. Impressively, that point-per-game pace doesn’t quite capture his best moments in Ottawa. From 2005-06 to 2007-08, Spezza scored 90, 87, and 92 points. He reached such lofty totals despite falling well short of 82 games played in each of those seasons.
Spezza formed a dominant line with Dany Heatley and Daniel Alfredsson. If a few things broke Ottawa’s way (Dominik Hasek’s Olympic injury comes to mind), it’s easy to picture that Senators team winning at least one Stanley Cup.
Spezza’s time with the Dallas Stars wasn’t quite as remarkable. (Personally, I knew he played for the Stars, but was surprised his run with Dallas covered five seasons.)
Spezza statement on retirement
Here’s Spezza’s statement on retiring from the NHL:
“I love hockey. Since the age of three, I’ve been lucky enough to live out my dream and do what I love for so many years,” said Spezza. “I eat, sleep, dream hockey and it’s always been there for me. There are too many people to thank individually but I’m forever grateful and indebted to the Ottawa Senators, Dallas Stars, Toronto Maple Leafs and Hockey Canada for their support and belief in me as a player and person. To my teammates, coaches, support staff, trainers and equipment staff – a heartful thank you for everything. Through countless hours at the rink – whether on the ice or with those behind the scenes – I have been so fortunate to have forged friendships for life.
Hockey has been my life’s work and to be able to come home to Toronto and bookend my playing career where it started was incredible. To the fans – in Ottawa, Dallas, Toronto and across the league – your impact on the game is immeasurable. I’ll never be able to replicate that feeling of stepping onto the ice to the roar of the crowd, but it is something I’ll always remember. Thank you.
Looking forward, I’m very grateful to the Leafs for the amazing opportunity to transition into this new role. It enables me to continue to follow my passion; learn and live new experiences within the game I love.
Lastly, none of this happens without the unwavering support of my parents, siblings, wife, and kids. You have always been my cornerstone.”
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.