It’s safe to say that Draft Weekend in Philadelphia did not go the way the Ottawa Senators were hoping it would.
Despite all the rumours and speculation suggesting otherwise, Jason Spezza is still a member of this hockey team. And after a candid interview with Bryan Murray in the moments following the second day of the Draft, suddenly the seemingly amicable split between the two sides now has the potential to turn a little bit ugly.
When speaking to reporters following the Draft, Murray let it slip (either on purpose or in a moment of frustration) that he had talked to Nashville Predators’ GM David Poille about a Jason Spezza trade. Murray went so far as to suggest that he had a deal in place that would have sent Spezza to Nashville but that Spezza and his agent turned down the deal because Nashville is one of the teams on Spezza’s no trade list. Impossible to blame Spezza in a situation like that but by letting that information out publically, Murray is trying to make it seem like he is doing everything he can to get this done but that pesky no trade clause got in the way.
Not buying it.
Murray knew about the no trade clause going in and knew that Nashville was a team on that no trade list. Spezza’s camp suggested they were willing to listen to offers from teams on that list but in the end, Spezza has the final say when it comes to those 10 teams. It’s believed the Sens also had talks with the Florida Panthers and the New York Islanders about a Spezza trade. The conversation and potential deal with Nashville should have been kept private but now that the information is out there, there’s a sense that Spezza is the one holding up this trade, which obviously isn’t really fair.
So with Saturday’s development, the Spezza sweepstakes now runs the risk of becoming the Spezza saga. A lot like the Heatley deal from years back, this now has the potential to turn into an ugly divorce between the two sides. Which is really unfortunate.
The Senators have suggested they are willing to let this go on all summer if they have to and would even be willing to bring Spezza back to start next season if necessary. That obviously isn’t a realistic option. The sooner this situation is resolved, the better. For those waiting for Spezza to change his opinion on a Nashville deal, I can’t see it happening. He knows contenders in St. Louis and Chicago are interested and would obviously prefer to end up in one of those two cities.
July 1st and free agency now becomes the next pressure point for teams looking for a top line centre. Teams that miss out on Paul Stastny are likely to turn their attention to Spezza. Based on the Kesler and Neal trades, it’s pretty clear Ottawa is not going to hit a home run with this trade. For everybody’s sake, let’s hope the situation can be resolved in the next few days.