Sens want Spezza's input

Chris Stevenson, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:01 PM ET

PHILADELPHIA - Senators general manager Bryan Murray plans to meet with Jason Spezza before July 1, but it won’t be to talk about trading the top centre.

If anything, Murray wants to make Spezza, who ended the year on a sour note, even more a part of the Senators’ future.

Spezza was unhappy with his treatment at the hands of the fans and media at the end of the year and said so to Murray in their exit interview after the Senators were eliminated by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round of the playoffs.

That’s fueled some speculation Murray could face another summer of having to trade a top player after last off-season’s boondoggle with Dany Heatley.

“I got an impression that he was quite unhappy at the end,” said Murray after leaving the general managers meeting here. “I think the coverage he felt he got and the fan reaction a couple of times left him kind of wanting a little bit. But I don’t think it’s anything beyond that.”

Murray will meet with Spezza again to get his input on what the team should do for next year.

Murray said he wants Spezza to be a big part of the team going forward and now considers him part of the club’s veteran leadership group along with captain Daniel Alfredsson and veteran defenceman Chris Phillips.

“I just want to talk about the year and his role with the team. I want to get his opinion on where we’re going, what we’re adding or what we might be subtracting,” said Murray.

“I think he’s a veteran enough guy like Alfie or Phillips who I talk to about a variety of stuff, what we all want to do. Jason has been around long enough now he should carry more responsibility.”

•The general managers have decided to recommend a five-minute major and a game misconduct for a blindside shoulder hit to the head of a unsuspecting opponent. The next step is for it to be approved by the competition committee and then forwarded to the board of governors for final approval.

“This is about protecting the players,” said NHL vice-president and director of hockey operations Colin Campbell. “It’s hits to the head by shoulders. It’s a certain type of hit, not every hit.” Campbell said a suspension would be levied even if the victim of the hit was not injured.

“I think we’re on our way that by the start of the season something will be in place to make clear to the players what is a legal hit and what is not,” said Edmonton Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini. “No one wants head hunting.”

•Phoenix Coyotes GM Don Maloney won the first GM of the year award as voted on by his peers and media.

•Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Shane Doan of the Phoenix Coyotes and Ryan Miller of the Buffalo Sabres are the three nominees for this year’s Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award.

HEAR AND THERE: Boston Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli said he has talked to Tambellini about the possibility of swapping the Bruins’ pick in the two-spot to the Oilers for number one. The problem is determining what that’s worth.

Chiarelli said that after the B’s scouting meetings, there was a division between the Boston scouts over which was the better player, Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin. It might be a bit of maneuvering on Chiarelli’s part, basically saying there isn’t much to choose between the two, so the price to swap shouldn’t be high.

“We came out with one guy ahead, but it flip-flopped,” said Chiarelli. “If it was a sizeable enough gap, we would look at deal. Whatever premium we put on it, their gap might be bigger.”

Chiarelli also said he’s had a couple of feelers from teams about acquiring the number two pick, which the Bruins picked up from the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Phil Kessel trade. “They’re slowly coming forward the last couple of days,” he said

The GMs also discussed the large number of games being decided in shootouts, but no action is being considered. Calgary Flames GM Darryl Sutter seemed resigned to a lot of games being determined by the shootout.

“It’s clearly because teams are more even. I don’t know how you address it. It’s what the (salary) cap created,” he said. “A lot of games are decided in the shootout. So be it.”


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