OTTAWA -- He is part of the National Hockey League's offensive young vanguard that dazzles regularly, but Jason Spezza will tell you he has no problem being a little wooden.
The Ottawa Senators centre is part of a small group of NHL players who refuse to let go of the past. It's thought that less than 20 NHLers still use a wooden stick, and the 24-year-old Spezza is one of them.
The composite stick does plenty for a player's shot, but Spezza would rather control the puck and a heavier wooden stick lets him do that more effectively. Former hockey greats such as Wayne Gretzky and Guy Lafleur recently have lamented the nearly total disappearance of wood sticks in the NHL.
"I just like the feel and I don't see fit to change," Spezza said. "I have tried the composite sticks a bit in the summer, but I've never grabbed one and thought 'Wow, great, I have to switch to that.' I've never tried to get used to anything different."
Spezza's use of an old-fashioned Sher-Wood has not put a dent in his scoring ability. Despite missing six games in November because of a groin injury, the Mississauga native had 84 points (31 goals and 53 assists) in 68 games prior to last night. He was tied for seventh in NHL scoring with Henrik Zetterberg of the Detroit Red Wings, and each of the six players with more than 84 points had played in at least six more games than Spezza.
Injuries held Spezza to 67 and 68 games in the past two seasons respectively, but he recorded 87 and 90 points. It's clear Spezza, who led the American Hockey League in scoring during the lockout in 2004-05 season with 117 points, would have toppled the 100-point barrier had he not been hurt.
"This year we went three or four weeks where we could not put the puck in the net and that hurt a little bit," Spezza, a plus-23 before last night, said. "I don't think 100 points is out of the question this year, but it's going to take a good run."
The 100-point neighbourhood is where Spezza would like to take up permanent residence.
"I think I've always expected to be near 100 points, and one day knock on the door and try to win the scoring race," said Spezza, who has not lost the off-ice exuberance that he had in junior. "In the past couple of years I have had a chance to play and show what I am capable of doing."
And he added, with a laugh: "And all with a wooden stick."