Jason Anthony Rocco Spezza
Born June 13, 1983 (age 28) in Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Center and alternate captain for the Ottawa Senators
Emma and I watched this guy sink the first of three shots that gave the Sens their shutout win against the Wild last night! The son of Italian parents, he first played in the OHL with the Brampton Battalion before going into the OHL draft and being selected by the Mississauga Ice Dogs for their 1999-2000 inaugural season. After earning 61 points in 52 games, he was traded to the Windsor Spitfires in the 2000-01 season, where he had 116 points in 66 games. He was chosen second overall by the Sens in 2001, after Ilya Kovalchuk was picked by the Atlanta Thrashers (interesting fact: Jason would’ve went to the Islanders, had they not traded Zdeno Chara, Bill Muckalt and that pick to the Sens for Alexei Yashin). After spending one more year in the OHL with Windsor and the Belleville Bulls, he hit the pros by way of the AHL.
Jason played with the Grand Rapids Griffins in their 2002 Calder Cup playoff run and spent the majority of the 2002-03 season with the Sens’ new NHL team, the Binghamton Senators, but was called up to Ottawa quite often and made his NHL debut that season. He spent a full year with the Sens for the 2003-04 season, but went back to Binghamton in the Year That Never Was; in that AHL year he received awards for the league’s leading scorer and most valuable player.
When he came back to the Sens in 2005, he had a surprise waiting for him – he was put on first line with Dany Heatley and Brandon Bochenski (later replaced with Daniel Alfredsson). In that season, he had 90 points despite only playing 68 games, and in their playoff run he added 14 more points. After another season with postseason action, he signed a seven-year contract in November 2007 and scored his first hat trick against Montreal the following February. He posted his lowest points total in his career in the 2008-09 season (73 points in 82 games), but he bounced back somewhat with 57 points in 60 games in a season marred by injury. This past season saw him sit out for about six weeks after Kris Letang hit him into the boards from behind in December 2010, but he still managed 57 points in 62 games.
Internationally, he’s won silver and bronze as a member of Team Canada in the World Juniors and silver in the World Championships. He was left off the roster for the 2010 Olympics at first, but after Joe Sakic retired and Ryan Getzlaf dropping out because of an injury, he was invited onto the team. We all know what happened in Vancouver, yeah? And who knows, if he has a stellar year, the Sens might just see some action after April.