Spezza can handle the heat

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:57 AM ET

Jason Spezza has no qualms about being the centre of attention -- good or bad.

Yesterday, Spezza was introduced as part of Reebok Hockey's impressive team of spokesmen -- which includes Sidney Crosby, Roberto Luongo and Martin Brodeur -- at a press conference at Pro Hockey Life in Kanata.

Tomorrow, it will be back to his real job, trying to help the Senators extend their winning streak to two games when the Maple Leafs pay a visit to Scotiabank Place.

Spezza, enjoying a four-day break in the schedule after the Senators' 4-1 victory over the Rangers on Saturday, said following the news conference he can understand why he's a lightning rod for criticism, but hopes to change that perception.

"I've always wanted to be a go-to guy. People have seen me since Day 1 and people have seen me grow as a player. They have high expectations of me and I have high expectations of myself. I wouldn't change it," said Spezza, who has seven goals and nine assists in 20 games this season.

"You're the goat when you're losing. You're the hero when you're winning. It's unfortunate when things aren't going good and people are all over you. The easiest thing to do is to ignore it. Nobody ignores it. You do hear it, but I think we can get this team to a good place and I can be a big part of it. I'm looking forward to that challenge."

Spezza said his struggles have mirrored the problems the team had in the first quarter of the season.

"UP AND DOWN'

"It's been up and down like the team. It's been good at times and bad at times," said Spezza. "We've been confused at times on how to play as a team and I've maybe been similar. Personally, I can feel my game coming here in the last couple of weeks.

"I feel I'm starting to skate better and feel more confident. With all the change and (coach Craig Hartsburg) coming in and all the focus on playing well offensively and defensively, you almost forget what you are there for. But I can feel the change coming."

A new piece of equipment Spezza has added this year is a Reebok one-piece stick that has wood blade and a graphite shaft. He met with Reebok officials in the summer and agreed to use their equipment while acting as a consultant for future projects.

"They've done a real good job putting it together for me because I feel I've got the lightness of the shaft and the heavy wood feel in the blade," said Spezza, who is one of the few players using a wood blade. "It's nice to have the input. If you are part of the company, they will listen to you."


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