Spezza has Olympic-sized dream

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:28 AM ET

OTTAWA -- If Jason Spezza wanted to make an impression on Canadian Olympic coach Pat Quinn, this was the way to do it.

Harbouring dreams of wearing the red-and-white at the coming Winter Games in Turin, Italy, Spezza's flashy skills left the Corel Centre buzzing with a three-point performance that easily earned him first-star honours.

In leading his Ottawa Senators to a 6-5 shootout victory over Quinn's Maple Leafs last night, Spezza once again served notice he is serious in earning a spot on Team Canada.

"The only personal goal I have is to make that club," the personable Spezza said yesterday. "It's something I set out to do from the start of the season."

Entering just his second full NHL campaign, Spezza, 22, certainly has set the bar high in attempting to earn a spot on Team Canada.

Then again, he's a grizzled veteran compared to the likes of 18-year-old Sidney Crosby, who many feel should at least get a look from the Canadian brass before the final lineup is announced later this year.

Besides, Spezza need only look over to his wing for motivation in the form of marquee off-season addition Heatley, who also had three points against Toronto last night. The former Atlanta Thrasher has been a staple for Canada on the international hockey scene for several years.

While Heatley attended Team Canada's training camp back in August, Spezza received no such invitation to join them out in British Columbia two months ago.

But that has not deterred Spezza's determination.

"I don't read anything into the fact that I didn't get to attend the camp," Spezza said. "The evaluation process is ongoing over the next several months, and I want to make it so difficult for them that they can't help but take me."

If that scenario were to play itself out, Quinn might opt to keep Sens linemates Heatley and Spezza together in Italy.

With national teams having very little practice time before the start of the competition, existing on-ice chemistry becomes an even more valuable commodity.

"So far Heater and I have played well together," Spezza said.

Aren't we getting a little ahead of ourselves here?

"Maybe," he said. "But, at the same time, it's something I'm aiming for."


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