'I could have helped'

Now that the Turin Olympics are over, Jason Spezza is turning his focus toward helping the Senators...

Now that the Turin Olympics are over, Jason Spezza is turning his focus toward helping the Senators win a Stanley Cup. Spezza was a member of Team Canada's taxi squad in Turin. (Ottawa Sun/Sean Kilpatrick)

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:00 AM ET

Jason Spezza believes he could have made a difference for Canada at the Olympics.

"You definitely feel like you could have helped," the Senators centre said at Scotiabank Place yesterday, speaking the way a confident, offensive guy who has just watched his team suffer world-class scoring struggles should be speaking.

"I definitely feel that way and I'd be lying to you if I said I didn't. It was tough not playing. But decisions were made and it didn't happen. "

Still, Spezza was thrilled to be part of the Canadian team's taxi squad and very appreciative of the chance to be at the Games in Italy. The experience of being around such champions as Joe Sakic will only help him, he feels, and Spezza hopes it leads to the opportunity for a much larger role with the Olympic team in 2010.

But that is then and this is now.

"That's all behind us," Spezza said of the Olympics. "All we're worried about now is trying to win the Stanley Cup."

Getting up for the first game back tomorrow night in Pittsburgh won't be as difficult as getting up this morning for Spezza, Wade Redden and Dany Heatley.

The three Canadian team members had some time off to enjoy the Games and the sights with their families after being eliminated by the Russians on Wednesday, but they didn't arrive back home until late yesterday morning. By then it was too late for them to rejoin their Senators teammates for practice.

The long flight from Italy touched down in Toronto about 4 a.m., but Spezza and friends couldn't immediately proceed to Ottawa because the luggage doors on the plane had frozen.

"The biggest thing now is to try and stay up all day and getting back in our time zone," Spezza said in a brief appearance at the rink. "But I'll be playing (tomorrow)."

Coach Bryan Murray expects all Senators -- with the exception of an injured Dominik Hasek -- to be in the lineup against the Penguins. And that includes Daniel Alfredsson, the only one who played in Sunday's gold medal game.

"The only guy that might be a question is Alfie," said Murray. "But knowing him, I think he'll want to play."

While Zdeno Chara and Andrej Meszaros took part in their first practice since returning to Ottawa, Murray did admit to some disappointment that the Canadian players weren't able to get to the rink in time yesterday.

"There will be a little catching up to do on their part," he said of the Canadian players, who will have had five full days off when they return to practice this morning.

As for the possibility of any of the Olympians suffering exhaustion from a gruelling schedule that leads into a very busy NHL period, Murray said "they have to keep us up to date on the way they feel. We talked to them all, but they're going to have to let us know when they need to take a day off.

"We have to monitor them," he added, "but they have to be honest and let me know when they need a break."

Redden, who says a slight groin injury he has worked through isn't serious, is ready to roll.

"It was disappointing (to lose) but it's good to be back for the last part of the season," he said. "We had four days (in Italy) to relax. Energy wise, I'm just excited to get back playing."


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