Year End Reviews – Spezza

A season to forget, for sure, but, if he intends on becoming the player he thinks he can be, it’s a season Spezza has to remember. A season he has to remember when he slacks off in practice. A season he has to remember when he takes a regular season game for granted. A season he has to remember when he thinks his talent alone is enough to get him through the next shift. A season to remember when he thinks he’s doing enough, but still not on the winning team.  A season he has to use to make himself better. Otherwise, what was all the turmoil for?
But we fans have to remember, he is only going on 26 years old. He has been to the Cup, and performed well in getting there. He is ours, long term, like it or not, barring either a miracle trade, or a miserable give-away.
Through-out the season, Spezza was made the goat, by fans and media alike, his name seemed to be the lightning rod for criticism. I won’t claim he didn’t deserve his fair share, but I do believe he received more than that, far too often.
I’m not a huge Spezza fan, so don’t think I’m writing this from that perspective.  I’m an Alfie fan, and I think we all know what that is, and to this point, Spezza ain’t no Alfie…but Alfie wasn’t always Alfie either. It took him time to convert desire, opportunity, and pressure, into a winning combination. I still believe Spezza deserves the opportunity to do the same, and rightly or wrongly, believe he will.

The Numbers:

Ht. – 6′-3″, Wt – 214 lbs, Pos. – Centre

Before Clouston

GP – 48
TOI – 952:11
ATOI – 19:50
PROD – 25:05
Goals – 17 (.354 G/g)
Assists – 21 (.438 A/g)
Pts – 38 (.792 Pts/g)
Plus/Minus – -9
PIM’s – 42
Shots – 145 (3.02 SOG/g)

After Clouston

GP – 34
TOI – 662:22
ATOI – 19:29
PROD – 18:55
Goals – 15 (.441 G/g)
Assists – 20 (.588 A/g)
Pts – 35 (1.029 Pts/g)
Plus/Minus – -5
PIM’s – 37
Shots – 101 (2.97 SOG/g)

As you can see, Jason, for whatever reason, responded under Clouston, in fact, if he had played that pace for 82 games, he would have had 36 goals, 48 assists, for 84 pts.  This would have still been a bit of an an off year, but not enough to be of any concern.  Unfortunately, the real issue with Spezza remains his defensive play.  Unlike in the past, statistically, this can no longer be hidden by his superior points totals, and resulted in his career worst -14.  There is also always the talk about the lack of a physical dimension to his game, but, as a playmaker, this doesn’t worry me, so long as he proves able to to play through traffic, vs. playing in traffic.  Fisher is the “rough” centre, but Spezza has to be able to remain effective under tight physical checking, as the opposing team will obviously focus their most physical defenders against him vs. Fisher.

One thing I did find from Spezza this season, and it is intangible, and totally argumentative, but, after the coaching change, I felt as though he was doing more to help the team win, vs. to improve his own stats.  I saw more fire, more commitment, more desire, from Spez but I didn’t get the same from Heatley, as I wrote in his review, but maybe it’s totally unfair, but, that’s how I felt at least.

The question remains, how much of this seasons poor results were due to coaching, a lack of a true secondary offensive threat, his line-mates, or Spezza himself?  I don’t claim to have the answer, but I do know that, when the coaching changed, and the secondary scoring improved, so did Spezza, and that must mean something.

Jason Spezza- B-


2 Responses to “Year End Reviews – Spezza”

  1. I think you’ve hit on something here. But I think the relevant comparison is not Before Clouston – After Clouston, but With Alfie – Without Alfie. For both Spezza and Heatley.

    Why Alfie? Because there is evidence that his body is wearing out, and may not be an active player 2 years from now. So we need to know how well Spezza and Heatley are likely to perform when they no longer have Alfie on their line.

  2. sensay Says:

    That is a very good point George, but, to be fair, Alfie actually played his most games this past season (79) then since 1995 (82). But, it would be foolish to not expect him to show his age at some point.
    As for production Spezza is more than 50% less productive (EV) without Alfie, but only moderately less productive when without Heatley.
    Heatley is almost 50% less productive without Alfie (EV).
    Even worse, both have more goals scored against (EV) when not playing with Alfie…
    Alfie is the only player on the Sens who, Even Strength, makes EVERY player he plays significant minutes with more productive.
    That is AMAZING, and is why he should be a perennial Hart trophy nominee.

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