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Jason Spezza expected to stay in Ottawa ... for now

Jason Spezza, Milan Michalek

** CORRECTS TO MICHALEK SCORING GOAL, INSTEAD OF SPEZZA, TO REFLECT CHANGE IN OFFICIAL SCORING ** Ottawa Senators’ Jason Spezza looks toward teammate Milan Michalek after Michalek scored a goal against the New Jersey Devils during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Ottawa on Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2010. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Pawel Dwulit)


A year after Dany Heatley forced a trade out of Ottawa - but only to the teams he wanted to play for - it looked like disgruntled center Jason Spezza might follow a similar path. After all, Senators fans booed the talented but defensively questionable forward during the team’s first round loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins in this year’s playoffs.

While the real story might be that no one really wanted to sacrifice a piece or two for Spezza, it seems like the playmaker will be a part of the team going into the 2010-11 season. Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun reports that Senators GM Bryan Murray claims that Spezza will be staying put.

While the Senators centre told GM Bryan Murray he wouldn’t “object” to being dealt, the Senators couldn’t find any dance partners before Spezza’s “no move” clause kicked in at midnight Thursday.

He certainly won’t be traded after Ottawa owner Eugene Melnyk stroked a cheque for a $4-million bonus owed to Spezza.

Murray said he studied the market for Spezza and a deal that made sense.

“Throw cold water on it,” said Murray. “As of today, there’s nothing happening with Jason Spezza other than he’s a member of the Ottawa Senators. We have had conversations leading up to (Thursday).

“I understand his frustration. I do. He’s a player that has really good talent and he wants to be on a winning hockey team. He was frustrated at the end of the year because the finger was pointed a little too much at him and maybe also the fact we didn’t beat Pittsburgh in the first round.

“As of right now, my thoughts are going forward.”

General managers are often quick to shoot down rumors - even if there secretly were talks on the subject in question - so it’s surprising that Murray has been so candid about the process. Such a stance implies (to me, anyway) that Spezza is still on the market in many ways.

That being said, the rumor mill regarding the potent passer should die down. For a little while, at least.