Ottawa, Ontario. September 14, 2013 --- Ottawa Senators forward, Jason Spezza was officially named the team captain during a announcement that took place at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, September 14, 2013. ( Chris Roussakis / Ottawa Citizen) Negative No.114433
Photograph by: Chris Roussakis, Ottawa Citizen
PHILADELPHIA – After Jason Spezza vetoed a potential trade to Music City Friday, the trade circus is back in Ottawa.
It’s still early summer, but the comparisons to the drawn out Dany Heatley saga of 2009 are starting.
Just in case you were sleeping through Rounds 2-7 of the National Hockey League draft here Saturday, here’s a recap of what happened. And of what happened five years ago with Heatley.
Senators general manager Bryan Murray said Saturday that he and Nashville general manager David Poile had the makings of a deal in place, but it couldn’t go anywhere because Nashville was among the 10 teams on Spezza’s no trade list. While Poile wants a first-line centre and is singing the praises of Nashville as a prime destination for NHL players, he says he’s not about to beg for Spezza to join the party.
At the risk of conjuring up bad memories Senators fans, the Edmonton Oilers also felt slighted when Heatley turned down the potential deal which would have sent Heatley to Edmonton for Dustin Penner, Andrew Cogliano and Ladislav Smid in 2009.
Now, after that brief, but ugly piece of Senators history, let’s go back to the present.
After the draft wrapped up Saturday, Murray went public with the potential Predators deal.
“David (Poile) talked to me,” Murray said. “We couldn’t go there. I told (Spezza’s agent) Rick Curran that. I had a deal sitting there if I wanted to do it, but (Nashville) was on the list of no go’s.”
Poile has been outspoken about acquiring a first line centre to play with James Neal, who was acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins in a trade Friday. The Predators, who have long before a defensive-oriented team under former coach Barry Trotz, are aiming to become a more offensive team under new coach Peter Laviolette.
“We need a top centre, there’s no question about that,” said Poile. “Mike Fisher is very good. We have some young guys like Calle Jamkrok and Colton Sissons that played some games last year and Paul Gaustad, who is a defensive kind of centre.
“That’s next on our wish list, whether that comes in trade or free agency or it takes another year to get it, that’s what we need.”
While Spezza would seem a natural fit, Poile says he’s not going to beg for Spezza to go to Music City.
“I’m not going to chase somebody if he doesn’t want to play for us,” said Poile. “This game is hard enough as it is. You’ve got to be fully committed.”
Curran offered no comment Saturday.
Spezza’s first wish is to go to a legitimate Stanley Cup contender, with the Anaheim Ducks and St. Louis Blues at the top of the list. The Ducks, however, traded for Ryan Kesler on Friday, taking them off the list.
It’s also a somewhat weak free agent market, with Paul Stastny standing out as the only high-scoring centre available.
Murray says he’s not sure how the situation will change when free agency arrives on July 1. It’s still possible that Spezza could end up in St. Louis and it’s also believed that the Chicago Blackhawks have an interest.
The Senators general manager concedes that his first priority was to make a deal where he would receive a first round draft pick as part of the package for Spezza.
“In a couple of cases there was real interest, but it went away,” Murray said.
“(Spezza’s camp) might have to have a little change of approach, as well as I do. Maybe (David) Poile and I will have a conversation later on. He may come back.”
But the way Poile was talking Saturday, he appears to have moved on. He, too, says he talked to Curran, but apparently Spezza’s mind was made up.
With Neal joining a roster which includes Shea Weber, Seth Jones and a healthy Pekka Rinne, Poile believes the Predators are closer to the top than many outsiders believe. He also says the environment in Nashville is second to none.
“Playing in Nashville, living in Nashville, it’s fabulous,” he said. “Of course I might be prejudiced, but any of you who have been there and seen what it’s like and seen what the atmosphere is and the competitiveness of our team and how hard we try…Nashville is a great spot. I don’t get it. Everybody says I’d like to go to a team that has a chance to win the Stanley Cup. Well, we’re trying just as hard as everybody else to win the Cup and who knows, maybe we’re closer than anybody thinks.
“You can ask Paul Kariya what he thought of playing in Nashville. You can ask Peter Forsberg what he thought of playing in Nashville. But I get it. This is how the world is right now. There’s a lot of entitlement.”
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