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Spezza, New and Improved… McRae, Old and Bitter

Surprise, surprise.

A few days after posting a commentary on how Jason Spezza now has to tread carefully with the media, one writer has taken exception to another incident involving Spezza’s silence. Earl McRae, the Ottawa Sun’s resident editorial axe grinding hack, accomplished what he set out to do: to portray Jason Spezza in a negative light.

McRae, who was part of a media scrum involving Spezza, wanted to ask the center a question about his state of mind that has been drawing the praise of his peers. However, before McRae could pose his question, Spezza ducked out of the scrum and returned to the locker room. Cuing an inevitable hatchet job from McRae:

Is this the rumoured new Jason Spezza, at 27, the artist as a young man, no longer going on 15 with the giggles, chuckles, goofy smiles, and innocent candour that made his personality so refreshingly likeable in the sporting era of mechanical robots?

This is his eighth season with the team, he’s well beyond the cosseting excuses that he’s still NHL embryonic, his unsettling gaffes on the ice understandable, give him time, he’ll mature. Jason Spezza, who now must rightfully be bequeathed that disturbing word in Sportsworld: Veteran.

Veteran implies maturity, not only as a player doing it right, but the mental and emotional feeder maturity as a person that will bring together all that is expected of him on the ice, and serve to dissuade the fans making him their favourite whipping boy as they so often do.

If he doesn’t know, he should, that when the season starts their whips will be at the ready again, but he should also know the genesis of their cat-calling anger is because they know how skilled and gifted a player he is when not succumbing to that of all artists to the manor born: The compulsion to display their out-of-the-box creativity.

In the case of Spezza, his behind-the-back or between-the-legs passes that result in giveaways, his slowness, or disinclination to hurry back into the play.

It didn’t help Spezza, or the Sens fans’ belief that for a big player who shies away from hitting or fighting — unlike the far more skilled and talented Alex Ovechkin — he’s an under-achieving, immature, emotionally fragile baby when after last season he complained to general manager Bryan Murray he was upset over the fans booing him and would not say no to a trade.

[…]

At Scotiabank Place, the artist answers the usual hockey questions, none related to a possible new Spezza. He doesn’t chuckle, giggle, or smile. A portent of a new maturity? I go to ask him. He cuts me off, turns, and bolts for the dressing room at a speed he should use when getting back into the play.

Isn’t it a tad ironic that a journalist is criticizing a player for not talking and shying away from contact, when that same journalist said nothing to Spezza in person?

When Spezza’s infamous exit interview with Bryan Murray occurred, maybe he mildly hinted around the truth by saying that he would not object to a trade if Murray could find a deal that was mutually beneficial. Maybe deep down, he desperately wants to escape the fishbowl atmosphere that comes from playing in a Canadian city. Only Jason and his inner circle truly know the answer.

I realize that many will look at Spezza’s situation and say that if a player can sign a long-term extension and reap the benefits and limelight when the team is winning, he shouldn’t look to jump the shark when the team experiences a setback. However, whether you’re a proponent or critic, give credit where credit is due. If Jason wants out, he’s done a great job of hiding his true feelings. Fortunately, he has said all of the right things and this hasn’t escalated into another Heatley situation. By all accounts, Spezza seems content to remain in town. If he can put this behind him and move on, why can’t the local media?

Or is everyone content to try and further their own agenda by helping push Ottawa’s best offensive talent out the door?

(Ed. note: Starting with McRae’s column, I’m going to keep a running tally of articles that cast Spezza in a negative light. If you happen to come across one, send me an email with the link.)

Kuba Injury

I’m probably the last to write this but now that defenceman Filip Kuba will miss a minimum of five to six weeks with a broken leg, Ottawa’s depth at their weakest position is going to get tested early. For a team that many, like TSN, are predicting to be on the playoff bubble, Ottawa can ill afford to get off to a sluggish start. Fortunately, the injury did take place during training camp, so it will allow Kuba’s replacement — Brian Lee, Jared Cowen, Chris Campoli — more time to get used to the system and his defensive partner than normal.

Website Banner

Are you a graphic designer who wants to have their work displayed and promoted on this website? Or are you friends with one? Well, we at The 6th Sens are looking for a unique banner. If you’re interested in submitting your work, please email us at the6thsens (at) live dot com and we will give you the specs (ie. height and width) of the banner size.

Ottawa Citizen’s Fancy New Toy

If you haven’t heard, the Ottawa Citizen has unveiled a new website called Senators Extra that will be contributed to by all of their respective columnists. While this does signify the end of James Gordon’s Hockey Capital blog, I’m hoping that it won’t put an end to last season’s enjoyable prediction panels.

Photoshop Fridays?

Based off of some of the feedback that I have received from my last post, maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea to run a themed day for Friday. How do you readers feel about Photoshop Fridays in which you would submit Photoshopped images of the Senators/the opposition/whatever hockey theme is prevalent at the time. Let me know how you feel about this. I’ll take any other suggestions while we’re at it.

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