The ‘A’ on Jason Spezza’s jersey is there to stay.
While he wore the letter after Bryan Murray’s selloff last spring, this time it’s here to stay — coach Paul MacLean has named the 28-year-old Spezza an alternate captain.
While he’s always been willing to take a leadership role, Spezza will now officially be part of captain Daniel Alfredsson’s support group, along with Chris Phillips.
“It’s kind of a natural progression,” said Spezza Saturday at Scotiabank Place. “I think the longer you are around, the more responsibility you have. I know I have to be good every night for our team to do well. With the young guys around, I know I have to make a good impression off the ice.
“You can’t just think about yourself. You have to think about your team and that’s something that I’ve embraced the last couple of years and I’ve started to get more and more responsibility.”
Spezza said his role will expand, not change.
“I have to be able to help out other guys,” said Spezza. “I’ve been through a lot. I’ve won a lot of games, I’ve lost a lot of games and I’ve had ups and downs.
“That’s the stuff that you gain as you get older and you can share with the younger players. We have a young team, so there’s definitely pressure on me to be a leader off the ice.”
Alfredsson said Spezza is a good choice.
“He’s one of the best players in the league,” said Alfredsson. “He’s been around a long time, he’s played at the world juniors, was part of the Olympics (in 2006) and the world championships, so he’s got a lot of experience.
“He’s a good team guy. He helps the young guys a lot and makes my life a lot easier as well.”
“It doesn’t mean that (Milan) Michalek, (Craig) Anderson, (Chris) Neil and everyone else can’t be leaders,” said MacLean. “(Mika) Zibanejad, everybody can be a leader. The three players that have (letters) are just a representation of the team.”
THE INJURY FRONT
Spezza wasn’t on the ice for practice. He will be ready to play in the Senators’ season opener Friday vs. the Red Wings in Detroit. “I’m just taking care of some bumps and bruises,” said Spezza. “It’s a long week so it’s best to take some time now. There’s no use struggling through some practices. I want to make sure I’m feeling good Friday.” D Matt Carkner, who suffered a knee injury during last week’s game vs. the Jets in St. John’s, will be sent for tests and his status will be known Monday. “We’re just making sure that everything is in order and that he’ll be fine,” said MacLean. The Senators are hopeful Carkner and C Peter Regin (shoulder) are going to be ready for the opener. Neither was on the ice Saturday. The only player that is a certainty not to play is C Jesse Winchester (shoulder). Phillips, who was experiencing some tightness in his back, was on the ice.