Jason Spezza - The Iceman Cometh

Size matters
Spezza bulks up, impresses Ottawa teammates

Mike Zeisberger, SLAM! Sports
Saturday September 27, 2003 2:43PM

OTTAWA -- For every goal Jason Spezza scores this season, credit Maple Leafs forward Gary Roberts with an assist.

When Spezza arrived at the Ottawa Senators' training camp several weeks ago, his teammates discovered the stringbean had bulked up during the summer.

The kid obviously was taking his vitamins.

"He is in much better shape overall," Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson said. "He's a lot stronger ... he looks good."

Spezza, 20, credits his newfound physique to hours of workouts at Station Seven Reebok, the downtown Toronto gym opened by Roberts.

And on those days when the muscles ached, Spezza only had to glance at the well-known faces scattered around the facility to regain his motivation.

"Gary, Doug Gilmour, Jeff O'Neill, Chris Gratton, Tie Domi ... there were a ton of NHL guys there training," Spezza said yesterday. "And the trainer I worked with, Dave Ablack, was just unbelievable."

A number of tests conducted on Spezza by the Sens early in camp certainly made coach Jacques Martin a believer. The results indicated Spezza had made vast improvements in both strength and quickness.

A year ago, Martin was pelted with criticism for shipping Spezza to the minors to start the season. Even Don Cherry got into the act, questioning the logic of not keeping the kid with the parent club.

There is no such debate this time around. Spezza, barring injury, will be a major cog in the Sens' arsenal when the regular season opens in two weeks.

"The bottom line is, I came to a good hockey club when I came here," Spezza said. "I didn't want to be cut but it made me a better person and a better player."

Spezza's coming-out party occurred against the New Jersey Devils in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference final.

Playing in his first playoff game, Spezza assisted on the winning goal and then produced the insurance marker as the Sens staved off elimination. He instantly became a media darling in Ottawa, holding interview sessions in which reporters were packed three deep.

"Obviously that was a great game for me," Spezza said. "But playing in the last 10 games of the regular season is where I really got a lot of confidence.

"I don't think all the hype that follows me bugs me. I expect more out of myself than anyone else does, that's for sure."

 


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First Round Draft Pick - 2001 Entry Draft
Jason Spezza
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Photo: Ryan Remiorz/CP
Photo: Ryan Remiorz/CP
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