|Born||June 13, 1983 |
Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
|Height||6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)|
|Weight||216 lb (98 kg; 15 st 6 lb)|
|NHL Draft||2nd overall, 2001|
Jason Spezza (born Jason Anthony Rocco Spezza on June 13, 1983) is a Canadian professional ice hockey centre who currently plays for the Dallas Stars of the National Hockey League (NHL).
After beginning his major junior career at 15 years old, Jason was selected second overall in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft by the Ottawa Senators.
Playing in the American Hockey League (AHL) in 2004–05 due to the NHL lockout, he won the Les Cunningham Award as league MVP with the Binghamton Senators.
In 2005–06, Jason set an Ottawa Senators franchise record with 71 assists, while hitting the 90-point mark for the first of two times in his NHL career.
Internationally, he has represented Team Canada at three World Junior Championships and two World Championships.
Early Playing Career
At the age of fifteen, Jason began his major junior career in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) with the Brampton Battalion in 1998–99. He recorded beyond a point-per-game pace as an underaged player with 71 points in 67 games.
After one season with the Battalion, he was then required to enter the OHL Priority Draft and was selected by the expansion Mississauga IceDogs in the team's inaugural season in 1999–2000.
Jason recorded 61 points in 52 games that season before being traded 15 games into the 2000–01 season to the Windsor Spitfires. He went on to record a career high 116 points in 66 games that season.
Going into the 2001 NHL Entry Draft having been named the Top CHL Prospect, he was drafted second overall by the Ottawa Senators after Ilya Kovalchuk went to the Atlanta Thrashers.
The second overall pick originally belonged to the New York Islanders, but was traded to Ottawa along with Zdeno Chara and Bill Muckalt for Alexei Yashin on draft day.
After one more OHL season split between the Spitfires and the Belleville Bulls, resulting in a 105-point season, Jason began his professional career in the American Hockey League (AHL).
Ottawa Senators (2002-2014)
Following Jason's fourth OHL season in 2001–02, he was assigned to the Senators' AHL affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins for the 2002 Calder Cup playoffs (where he made his professional debut) playing in 3 post-season games and recording one goal.
He made his NHL debut the next season in 2002–03 with Ottawa, playing in 33 games and recording 21 points.
Jason played the majority of the season, however, in the AHL with Ottawa's new affiliate, the Binghamton Senators and was called up regularly to replace injured Ottawa players.
He also competed in three playoff games with Ottawa during his rookie season, helping the team in its 2003 playoff run to the semifinals.
The Senators came within one game of the Final, losing to the eventual Stanley Cup champion New Jersey Devils.
He played his first full NHL season with the Senators in 2003–04 and scored 22 goals and 55 points in 78 games, however, due to the subsequent NHL lockout, Jason returned to the AHL in 2004–05.
Scoring 117 points with Binghamton, Jason outscored Mike Cammalleri of the Manchester Monarchs by eight points to capture the John B. Sollenberger Trophy as the league's leading scorer. He was also awarded the Les Cunningham Award as league MVP.
With NHL play set to resume in 2005–06, Jason returned to Ottawa. Having traded centres Radek Bonk and Todd White off-season, the Senators started him on the first line between Dany Heatley and rookie Brandon Bochenski (who was Jason's linemate in Binghamton).
After captain Daniel Alfredsson replaced Bochenski on the top line (Bochenski was soon thereafter traded), the trio, nicknamed the "CASH" and "Pizza" line, established themselves as one of the most productive line in the NHL.
Wingers Alfredsson and Heatley both finished tied for fourth in league scoring with 103 points while Spezza tallied 90 points despite an injury-shortened 68-game season.
Jason's 71 assists established a team single-season record and was second in the league behind Joe Thornton of the San Jose Sharks (96 assists).
In the 2006 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Senators defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round, but fell to the Buffalo Sabres in five games. Jason added 14 points in ten post-season games.
During the summer of 2006, he underwent successful back surgery. The following season, he continued on the same pace with Heatley and Alfredsson before suffering another injury. He managed a career-high 34 goals and finished with 87 points in 67 games.
On May 19, 2007, he scored a goal and an assist as the Senators defeated the Buffalo Sabres in the Eastern Conference final four games to one.
They moved to the Stanley Cup Final against the Anaheim Ducks, but lost in five games after the Spezza-Heatley-Alfredsson line failed to perform against Samuel Pahlsson's checking line, backed by star defencemen Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger.
Jason finished the playoffs with a franchise-record 22 post-season points, tied with linemates Alfredsson and Heatley.
Beginning in 2007–08 in the last season of his contract, Jason signed a seven-year contract extension with the Senators worth $49 million on November 2, 2007.
Late that season, on February 9, 2008, Jason scored his first NHL hat-trick during a 6–1 Senators victory over the Montreal Canadiens. He contributed to all of his team's goals, for a career-high six-point night.
Jason finished tying his career-high in goals with 34 and establishing a new personal mark for points with 92, however the Senators failed to advance past the first round following their Stanley Cup run the previous season, falling to the Pittsburgh Penguins in four games.
The 2008–09 season was a disappointing one for both Jason and the Senators. Though he managed to remain injury-free and played in all of his team's 82 games for the first time in his NHL career, his point production decreased.
He managed 73 points in 82 games, and while still respectable, the numbers were his lowest totals since his first full NHL season in 2003–04.
The team struggled all season long, and would miss the playoffs for the first time since 1995–96.
Despite missing 22 games due to injury in the 2009–10 season, Jason still managed to score 23 goals and pick up 34 assists for 57 points in 60 games to finish second on the team in scoring.
In the first round of the playoffs, the Senators lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins four games to two.
Jason finished with one goal and six assists for seven points in the six games. He also led the team in shots on goal with 24.
However, Jason's poor defensive play and costly turnovers in that series resulted in him being booed by fans at Scotiabank Place and the following off-season, he was rife with speculation that he would be traded.
Jason himself admitted that he would not object to a trade out of Ottawa, but ultimately, no trade was forthcoming and he remained an Ottawa Senator.
On Sunday, December 26, 2010, in a 3–1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, Spezza was checked from behind into the boards by Penguins defenseman Kris Letang.
Letang received a two-minute penalty for boarding and Jason was expected to miss 4 to 6 weeks due to the shoulder injury he suffered as a result from Letang's hit from behind.
At the end of the 2010–11 season, Jason was named on an interim basis as an alternate captain after the trade of Mike Fisher.
In 2011–12, Jason was named as a permanent alternate captain for the Senators. He remained injury-free and finished fourth in league scoring, earning consideration for the Hart Trophy.
He was ultimately not a finalist for the award, finishing sixth in Hart voting.
Jason spent time with Rapperswil-Jona Lakers of the Swiss National League A during the 2012–13 NHL lockout and returned to the Senators once a resolution had been negotiated. He registered two goals and three assists in five games before a back injury sidelined him.
The Senators announced on January 31, 2013, that Jason would be out of the Ottawa lineup for a minimum of two months, and possibly longer as he required surgery for a herniated disc in his back.
The injury occurred in a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins on January 27, 2013. Jason ultimately missed the remainder of the regular season and the first round of the playoffs.
On May 19, 2013, he returned to action for the third game of Ottawa's Eastern Conference Semifinal series against Pittsburgh.
On September 14, 2013, Jason was named the eighth captain in Senators' franchise history, replacing long time teammate Daniel Alfredsson, who had departed to the Detroit Red Wings on July 5, 2013 as a free agent.
Dallas Stars (2014-current)
On July 1, 2014, Jason was traded to the Dallas Stars along with Ludwig Karlsson for Alex Chiasson, Alex Guptill, Nicolas Paul and a 2015 second-round pick on the first day of free agency.
Awards & Achievements
On July 25, 2009, Jason wed his girlfriend, Jennifer Snell, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
The ceremony took place at Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica and the reception was held across the street at the National Gallery of Canada.
Many of his current and past teammates were in attendance including Ray Emery, Antoine Vermette, Brendan Bell, Chris Phillips, Chris Neil and Senators owner Eugene Melnyk, however, close friend and former line-mate Dany Heatley was not in attendance.
On June 8, 2010, his wife Jennifer gave birth to the couple's first child, a daughter named Sophia Donna Spezza at St. Joseph's Health Centre in Toronto. On April 1, 2012, their second daughter Nicola Patricia Spezza was born.
Jason participates in numerous activities outside of hockey especially the "Spelling with Spezza" program.
The winners receive a poster of Jason and a pair of tickets to a Senators' home game. The program recognizes the importance of spelling. He visits selected classes registered for the program.
Last season, over 600 classes in the Ottawa-Gatineau area participated in "Spelling with Spezza." He also contributes to Ronald McDonald House Charities.