DALLAS – During his introductory press conference on Monday morning at American Airlines Center, newly-acquired Dallas Stars center Jason Spezza donned the club’s trademark Victory Green with his new number, 90. But no matter the color or number he wears, the bottom line for him wanting to come to Dallas and join the Stars was simple.
"Yeah, I think there’s a lot of positives to this move for me. First and foremost, I think it gives me a chance to compete for the Stanley Cup and at this point in my career is all I’m looking for," Spezza said. I’ve been the No. 1 center where I’ve been for a long time, but I feel like to win in this League you have to have depth amongst your team."
The Stars acquired Spezza, 31, who had spent the previous 11 seasons with the Ottawa Senators and served as their captain last season, last Tuesday in a trade that sent young Stars forward Alex Chiasson and two others to Ottawa for Spezza and forward Ludwig Karlsson.
And even though nearly a week has passed since Stars GM Jim Nill and the organization pulled the trigger on that bold move to signal a busy and productive day of moves, Nill still can’t contain his excitement about being able to add such an accomplished veteran to his club.
"We’re very excited. We have obtained an elite player in the League, Jason Spezza, one of the top playmakers, scorers in the League. He’s been in the playoffs for eight years of his career. He’s played in the Stanley Cup Finals, one of the leading scorers in the League, one of the leading playmakers in the League. Played in two All-Star Games, played in IIHF World Championships, his resume goes on and on," Nill said.
Once news of the deal became official early last week, the immediate thought was that Spezza would center Dallas’ second line with Tyler Seguin, acquired in Dallas’ big blockbuster last July 4 with the Boston Bruins, set to again center the top line alongside captain Jamie Benn.
But Nill, who had been in the front office with the Detroit Red Wings for two decades-plus before coming Dallas’ GM last May, doesn’t think that will necessarily hold true, at least not all the time.
"I think it’s a 1A and 1B," Nill said. "Jason Spezza is in the prime of his career. He’s an elite player. Having Tyler Seguin and Jason Spezza out there as your two centermen coming out the door, when we go on the road, other teams are going to have a tough time matching up against us. We’re excited about the depth. I’ve talked to Lindy (Ruff). We have lots of options."
Spezza comes off a 66-point season (23-43-66) last year in Ottawa and for his career, he is a point-per game player with 687 points (251-436-687) in 686 career games.
And this will be his first time playing in the Western Conference after spending his first 11 seasons out East with the Sens. But the veteran centerman is definitely looking forward to playing in the West, a conference he feels the Stars will again stack up well against.
"It’s difficult. It’s a great conference, there’s no doubt about that. But like Mr. Nill said, I think that makes you a better team too. This League is so hard to win in, so hard just to make the playoffs in. I think that by keeping yourself on your toes by being in a race all year, I think that can only help you going into the playoffs by playing that style of hockey," Spezza said. "I think cruising into the playoffs and trying to ramp your game up is difficult to do. So I think the competition level just makes you a better team and it creates better habits within your team and makes you probably more prepared for the battles that are in the playoffs."