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
"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
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
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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