Spezza: 'It definitely hurts'

DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:24 AM ET

As a new dad, Jason Spezza will teach his daughter all sorts of life lessons.

One day he may even tell Sophia Donna that sometimes it’s best to bite your tongue.

He can point to the summer of her birth as an example.

Sick and tired of seeing the relocation rumours involving his name, Spezza had a conversation with Bryan Murray that would only add fuel to what at the time was barely a spark.

“I talked to Bryan and (said) I read the newspapers, I see every year there’s trade talk about me. I just basically told him, if you want to move me, you can move me,” Spezza said of a season-end meeting he had with the Senators GM — which came months before the no-trade clause kicked in on his hefty, long-term contract. “(I told him) I want to be here, but if he thinks it’s best for the team for me not to be here, and the city, then he can move me.

“He told me he wasn’t going to move me, and to be honest, I was happy about it, because I like being here in Ottawa.”

Still, for a guy like Spezza who generally knows what’s being said about him, the period of time from that pow-wow with Murray until he spoke publicly Tuesday must have been difficult. Especially when he had his radio tuned in to The Team 1200, where callers routinely expressed their wish for Spezza to be dealt.

Now, Spezza’s going to find out what affects will come from his complaints of being booed by the hometown crowd. Could very well be that acknowledging the boos will only make them louder.

“If it does, it does,” said Spezza. “It’s something I’ve talked to Bryan about a little bit. Nobody likes getting booed at home. You put a lot into your job, you put a lot into hockey, and I’m trying every night. Trying to become a better player. So if it does, so be it. But I don’t think the fans are like that. I think for the one person that boos there’s 10 people that cheer.

“I like to think that the fans like me here in Ottawa. I like being here. I think that it’s just different circumstances and situations that happen once in a while. It’s not like it’s been an ongoing thing.”

Spezza became ultra-sensitive to his critics during last April’s first-round playoff loss to Pittsburgh.

“It’s tough when you’re trying, I was trying. Trying to score, trying to get us to win. I thought we had a good team,” he said. “You get booed a little bit. We’re human. It definitely hurts you a little bit. I understand it’s part of the game. I think me more than anyone, I’ve put up with a lot, and been able to kind of overcome a lot too through my career here. I understand that with the good comes the bad and all that, but I was emotional at the end of the year. I was upset that we lost. I thought our team had a good chance of winning, especially when you see the East. It was disappointing to get booed like that at home, but it’s part of the game and I’ll move forward.”

It’ll be interesting to see if he can.

Chip shots

Who says there were all sorts of Hollywood stars at the Mike Fisher-Carrie Underwood wedding? Not the Senators who were in attendance. They spotted none. “It was great,” Chris Kelly said of the ceremony. “To see a guy like Mike find someone that he wants to spend the rest of his life with was a great time.” The biggest celebs to show up? “Probably Fish and Carrie,” added Kelly. “It was their day. It was a good family thing with lots of friends. The way a wedding should be. It was all about them.” ... Chris Neil didn’t see any Hollywood types at the wedding either. “If Faith Hill was there, I would have danced with her,” joked Neil, who then followed with a statement about his musical tastes. “Or I would have danced with (her husband) Tim McGraw. I like his stuff better.” ...  Spezza is enjoying fatherhood. “It’s been a great change,” he said. “It’s definitely slowed the pace of life down a bit. I spend a lot of time at home. The first few weeks were a big adjustment, as I’m sure anyone who has kids knows. But we’re in a good routine now.”

From the fringe

Other hockey players at Spezza’s 5th Annual Celebrity Classic that raised money for the Ottawa Senators Foundation in support of Ronald McDonald House and Roger’s House were Chris Phillips, Nick Foligno, Pascal Leclaire, Shean Donovan and Corey Cowick. Donovan, an unrestricted free agent, is open to continuing his career in Europe if he doesn’t land a tryout with an NHL team. Either way, at 35 he’s not ready for retirement. Foligno, a restricted free agent, hopes to get a deal done with the Senators soon. It appears all that needs settling is term. “We’re just talking right now, but I think it’s close to being finalized,” he said. “I love playing in Ottawa. I hope things work out. It’s about finding the right amount of time that will allow me to become the player I know I can be.” ... Leclaire, who was wearing the diamond stud in his left ear he doesn’t bring to the rink, said he’s not concerned yet about battling with Brian Elliott for the Senators’ No. 1 goalie job. “I haven’t been talking about that,” said Leclaire, who answered Spezza’s call to play in the tournament despite the fact he hates golf. “It’s July, so I don’t know. I’m kind of more focusing on what I’ve got to do in the gym right now. I haven’t even skated yet.” ... The question of the day came from Kelly: “How did Spezz fit into those white shorts?”

don.brennan@sunmedia.ca


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