Spezza has groin issues

Jason Spezza is expected to miss tonight's home opener when the Senators host the Sabres. (QMI...

Jason Spezza is expected to miss tonight's home opener when the Senators host the Sabres. (QMI Agency/Errol McGihon)

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:27 PM ET

OTTAWA - Jason Spezza couldn’t hide his disappointment.

Bothered by a groin injury, Spezza’s status was supposed to be a game-time decision, but by the time he emerged from the Senators’ dressing room around 11:30 a.m. Friday, it was clear there was no decision to make.

The Senators’ top centre sat out Friday night’s season-opening game against the Sabres.

“This is not the situation I was hoping to be in, but it is what it is,” said Spezza prior to the game. “I want to play, but if the body doesn’t let you play, it kind of makes the decision for you.”

Starting the season with three games in four nights — including Saturday’s visit to Toronto to face the hated Maple Leafs — the Senators aren’t taking any chances with Spezza.

The Senators don’t want the injury lingering all season, and groin pulls usually only heal with rest.

“I don’t want to put myself or the team in a bad position where I’m going to hurt the team by missing more games or if I was playing hurt,” said Spezza, who hasn’t skated since suffering the injury on Wednesday. “We’ll see how it goes.”

After an awkward off-season, Spezza was looking forward to a fresh start, which is on the back-burner for now.

“I wanted to get off to a good start,” said Spezza, who missed 22 games last season with a knee injury. “This isn’t something you want to think about injury-wise at the start of the year. It happens. It’s part of being a hockey player.

“I’m not going to let it get myself down or the team down,” added Spezza, who was expected to make the trip to Toronto and possibly make his season debut at home Monday against the Capitals. “I’m just going to miss one or two games and then move on. It’s better than missing a whole whack of games.”

Spezza described how the injury occurred Wednesday at the Bell Sensplex.

“I felt something pull and I went off the ice right away. It didn’t get any worse, but it hasn’t gotten much better,” said Spezza.

No Heatley progress

Senators owner Eugene Melnyk told the Sun his grievance to get his $4-million US signing bonus back from ex-Senators W Dany Heatley hasn’t been heard yet. “They are trying to set a date. That’s all it is at this point,” said Melnyk. Club president Cyril Leeder added: “There’s a backlog. We’re in the queue with the rest. We’re not the only grievance in front of the league. There’s no update on that and we haven’t heard anything in the last 3-4 months.”

Cowen not happy

Prospect D Jared Cowen isn’t thrilled about being returned to the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs. He told a Spokane newspaper he’d rather be with the Senators and was surprised to be sent back to junior. “It’s obviously a disappointing decision,” said Cowen. “I thought I could have stayed there and done well. They thought I couldn’t get enough minutes to develop me right. Coming back here is really tough. I have to learn to play to the best of my capabilities every night, not settle for being just OK, but being great.”

This 'n' that

Ottawa has a strong record against the Leafs in recent history. The Senators 20-12-4 in their past 36 games vs. Toronto, outscoring the Leafs 115-98 in that stretch ... The Senators’ franchise-high 11-game winning streak last season ended against the Leafs in a 5-0 loss on Feb. 6 in Toronto ... Leafs coach Ron Wilson was pleased with the play of G J.S. Giguere in Thursday’s season-opening 3-2 win over the Habs. “He played really well. He focuses and he battles every shot,” said Wilson.

bruce.garrioch@sunmedia.ca


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