Spezza's 2 cents about Sens mess

By ERIC FRANCIS, SUN MEDIA

CALGARY -- In the midst of a summer of swirling controversy, it's hard to say what disappointed Jason Spezza more.

Being omitted from Team Canada's roster or seeing his pal Dany Heatley twist in the wind like a beaten pinata.

Thanks to an injury to Ryan Getzlaf, one situation was resolved.

However, the other still pains the Ottawa Senators centre who hadn't been in Calgary more than five minutes yesterday before being asked if he was upset with his former linemate.

"No, but maybe how it came out and how it was handled probably wasn't the best for our team," said Spezza, a late invite to this week's orientation camp thanks to Getzlaf.

"It hasn't worked out best for him, either, because it's been a long, drawn-out saga, which nobody wanted. It could have been handled differently. As hard as it's going to be, we can't let it be a distraction."

Good luck.

It dominated the headlines nationwide leading into yesterday's five-day gathering, and enquiring minds were curious to hear his first public response to Heatley's comments from last week.

"It's not my place to defend him," said Spezza, when asked if he wanted to rebut the national slagging of Heatley.

"He's making decisions for a reason -- he feels like Ottawa is not a good fit for him any more, and he has to stand by that. Obviously, the reaction from people isn't going to be favourable in Ottawa, but we have to move forward. If we trade him, we have to become a better team without him, and if he's back, we've got to move forward with him."

If the Senators are unable to cater to Heatley's trade demand, Spezza said his teammates will accept his return even if the fans won't.

"I don't think it will be awkward," said Spezza, who's recent wedding went off without Heatley in attendance.

"That's one thing with athletes -- we're used to ups and downs. We'll just have to deal with you guys (the media)."

Spezza said he's known Heatley's stance all along and just hopes all sides can benefit via a trade.

Yesterday, he told the gathered masses how hard he took the news he was originally left off Canada's list of 46. After all, four years earlier he earned one of three spots on Canada's Olympic taxi squad with Eric Staal and Dan Boyle.

"Little bit upset and a little disappointed -- also it was kind of a little eye opener that maybe I have to do some things a little bit differently," said Spezza, a sniper criticized for being inconsistent and often lacking intensity in his game. "I didn't see a real big reason why I should be left off the list -- there's obviously something I've got to change in my game a bit. It kind of motivated me a bit, and it could work out to be a blessing in disguise."

Steve Yzerman quickly established with Spezza what he has to do to have a remote chance of making the team, just as Jarome Iginla did in 2002 by cracking the roster after being a late invite due to injury.

"I had a pretty good conversation with Steve after I was left off, so sometimes things work out for a reason," Spezza said. "I don't know how many strides I can make in this camp -- that's not what it's for. I've changed a few things in my training and my mindset heading into the season.

"I feel like I can play at this level."

And after this week, his focus is squarely on turning around a franchise in disarray.

"We had a real disappointing year last year, so I'm pretty motivated this summer to right the wrong of last year."

Truth is, he's got a better shot at making Team Canada.

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