Spezza assists auction to help paralyzed player

DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:07 AM ET

TORONTO — Jason Spezza had his amazing goal-scoring streak stopped at eight games Saturday night in his hometown, at the same ACC venue he suffered a Dec. 16 knee injury that caused him to miss 20 games this season.

It was just before flying to Toronto Friday that Spezza was touched by a story which prompted him to help another injured hockey player, in the town he now makes his home.

The Senators centre donated an hour of himself and ice time, a signed Bobby Orr jersey and a signed pair of his own skates to The Team 1200’s online auction in support of Rene Faucher, the 40-year-old Ottawa father of three who was paralyzed after suffering a severe spinal cord injury while playing pickup hockey at the University of Ottawa Jan. 17.

“I was driving to the airport and listening to The Team, and I hadn’t really heard the story (about Faucher),” Spezza said after Saturday’s morning skate.

“I actually heard Rene talk (on the radio) .... I was just so impressed that he would be speaking about his situation.

“I don’t know how I would react if that happened to me. He seemed real brave, and really forward about everything. I was just impressed, and wanted to find a way to help.”

By Saturday, the auction had raised $26,555 for Faucher. The winning bid for the Orr jersey was $1,510. Spezza’s skates went for $450. To have Spezza pay for the ice time and practise with them, a local team coughed up $4,200.

Of the 35 auction items, it raised the most.

“I just wanted to do something different,” said Spezza.

As far as ideas go, that was a big score by No. 19.

Things I think I think

There can be no better heavyweight rivalry in the NHL than the one that has developed between Matt Carkner and Colton Orr. On a night that started off so nice for Carkner — with a Hockey Night in Canada piece that included a visit to his hometown of Winchester — things turned sour for “Big Country” when he got throttled by Orr at 8:25 of the first. But was it his toughness, craziness or embarrassment that led him to challenge Orr to another scrap late in the first? ... Just a really good hunch: Expect to see Pascal Leclaire back in net Tuesday at home against Calgary ... How desperate are Leafs fans for something to cheer about? They let out a roar before the game when it was announced that Dave Keon Jr. was the timekeeper ... Further evidence it’s not your night: Your power forward, Milan Michalek, is getting bowled over by scrawny Lee Stempniak. And the hole that was once in the middle of your goalie has come back.

Good-fortune cookies

The media were asking the Senators the secret to their winning streak Saturday morning. Like it could be passed on to the Leafs or something. Ha. Impossible. Not because the Buds don’t have the goaltending or the coaching. Because they don’t have Chase Carkner. The streak began around the same time he started baking chocolate chip cookies for the Senators. Chase Carkner is the four-year-old son of Matt. “He’s a baker,” the defenceman said proudly. They’re delicious, confirmed cookie-lover Jesse Winchester. “They’re chocolatey. Nice and soft. Pretty warm. He brings them fresh out of the oven,” said Winchester. And you believe they helped turn the team’s fortunes around? “Oh, certainly,” Winchester said, biting into his lip. “Any time you’re fuelling up before a game and feeling good on the ice, you’ve got to keep going with what’s working, eh?”

Starts and stops

Filip Kuba is not one to hold a grudge. A Minnesota Vikings fan, he’ll be rooting for New Orleans in today’s Super Bowl even though the Saints knocked off his team a couple of weeks ago. “That was tough, the ending was tough to that game,” Kuba said Saturday morning. “But I like Drew Brees. I’m cheering for him. Hopefully it’s going to be a high scoring game, but it’s the Super Bowl. Who knows?” Kuba didn’t want to predict a score, but Spezza did. “35-27,” said Spezza. “Shootout. That’s what I want, at least. Watch, it’s going to be like 13-10 or something brutal.” And Spezza is going with Indy. “I like the Colts, just because I like Peyton Manning,” he said. “The guy’s a machine. Wins all the time. But this Super Bowl’s a win-win. After all the stuff that’s gone on in New Orleans, if they win it’s going to be pretty special. I’m rootin’ for Peyton. I think he’ll go down as possibly the all-time best quarterback if he wins.” ... Alex Kovalev was trying to be helpful to the throng of reporters waiting for a teammate to get off the ice at the morning skate. “You’re looking for Spetz?” said Kovalev. “He went back to the hotel in his equipment.”


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