‘This is the only place I would play’ Jason Spezza wants to return to Maple Leafs, but only if he can contribute

The clock may have finally stopped on Jason Spezza’s playing career, but there might be room for another battery in what would be one final spin.
As the Maple Leafs went through locker cleanout day, each of them shared the massive disappointment, and the thought that this team was different heading into this year’s playoffs.
“The group has lofty goals and when it ends in the first round like that, it’s jarring as an athlete because you want better results.” Said a distraught Spezza to the media on Tuesday.
A number of players have big decisions to make in the off-season. Jack Campbell needs to think about whether he wants to test the open market, Mark Giordano the same, and a few others have that decision too. Do they want to come back and push for a Stanley Cup with this group or try it with another team?
Spezza gave the same message he has in previous seasons. He wants to be a Maple Leafs until his time runs out.
“This is the only place I would play.” Spezza said.
The 38-year-old finished off the regular season with 12 goals and 13 assists over a 71-game span. While Spezza spent every minute of ice-time on the fourth line, his contributions in the locker room …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

News from the Rink: Simmonds, Spezza, Kerfoot all return to Leafs practice

Kyle Dubas said yesterday that if Jason Spezza, Wayne Simmonds, and Alexander Kerfoot pass their cardiac screenings, they’d be back at Leafs practice.
It looks like the three players have left COVID protocols.

Players participating in Dec. 27 practice:
Forwards: Anderson, Bunting, Clifford, Engvall, Kaše, Kerfoot, Marner, Matthews, Ritchie, Seney, Simmonds, Spezza, Steeves, Tavares
Defencemen: Biega, Dahlström, Hellickson, Holl, Král, Liljegren
Goalies: Scott, Woll
— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) December 27, 2021

Matt Hellickson is the latest Marlies player to be practicing with the Leafs. The Leafs’ AHL affiliate has been hit hard by COVID-19 having 24 players and five staff members test positive for the virus.
Hellickson is on an AHL contract, but the NHL has reportedly given the Leafs special permission to have him practice with the team.
Leafs lines at practice
Here’s how the lines shaped up today with Spezza, Simmonds, and Kerfoot all returning to practice.

#Leafs lines at practice Dec. 27/21
Bunting-Matthews-MarnerKerfoot-Tavares-KaseClifford-Engvall-AndersonRitchie-Spezza-SimmondsExtra: Seney-Steeves
Kral-LiljegrenDahlstrom-HolllHellickson-Biega
WollScottD’Agostini (practice goalie)
— David Alter (@dalter) December 27, 2021

The first line has stayed the same as yesterday. With Kerfoot returning to practice, he slots in with John Tavares and Ondrej Kase. The third line consisting of Kyle Clifford, Pierre Engvall, and Joey Anderson stays …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Spezza is good to rejoin the Leafs as his suspension appeal is successful

In what is certainly great news for the Leafs, Jason Spezza’s appeal to Gary Bettman on his suspension length was somewhat successful and he is now eligible to return to the lineup for tomorrow night’s game.

Commissioner Bettman upholds suspension of @MapleLeafs forward Jason Spezza; reduces length from six to four games.
Complete ruling: https://t.co/3qvuhuPsO3 pic.twitter.com/E6YLxjYKOr
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) December 17, 2021

While the idea of an aggressive knee targeting an opponent’s head is certainly something that you’d hope to see warrant a penalty like six games or possibly beyond, the Spezza suspension certainly seemed inconsistent with the recent suspensions and fines handed down by NHL Player Safety and the reduction in the suspension seemed warranted.
With Spezza returning the Leafs get a bit more offensive firepower back, which is certainly a good thing at a time when Mitch Marner is out of the lineup. The Leafs will also have Nick Ritchie available again, so it likely pushes Clifford out of the lineup, at least temporarily.
The Leafs play the red hot Canucks (wait…what?) tomorrow night, and the Kraken the following night, so warm bodies are a definite …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

The NHL’s suspension appeal process needs to be better, and faster

Jason Spezza is serving a six-game suspension for his knee to the head on Neal Pionk. He’s currently four games into his suspension and awaiting an appeal with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.
Elliotte Friedman makes a valid point about appeals needing to be done faster in his latest 32 Thoughts.
From 32 Thoughts:
16. Something has to be done about appeal timelines. No matter what you think about Jason Spezza’s suspension, his previously clean record should earn him a fair appeal. Unless Commissioner Bettman surprisingly drops him a game, it’s almost impossible to get to an independent arbitrator before the six games are up. That’s not right, especially for someone with no history.
According to multiple reports, Spezza’s appeal hearing was on Tuesday — six days after he appealed the suspension. During that time, he’s missed three games, and we still haven’t heard anything about the appeal.
That doesn’t make sense.
At this point, Bettman will take one game off of Spezza’s suspension, and he’d be able to return on Saturday vs. the Canucks. If that even happens.
I understand that what Spezza did was predatory and dangerous, especially with Pionk’s head being …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

The DFO Show: Spezza deserves a five-game suspension, but refs share the blame for Jets-Leafs melee

Jason Spezza is set to have an in-person (well, face-to-face over Zoom) meeting with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety on Tuesday for his retaliatory hit on Neal Pionk.

On Tuesday’s edition of The Daily Faceoff Show, Frank Seravalli and Mike McKenna discussed the situation and how many games Spezza is likely going to be suspended for. Both agreed that he’ll get at least five games but Seravalli also made a point that this could have been avoided if the referees called the original knee by Pionk on Rasmus Sandin.
Seravalli: “We’re still dealing with the fallout from the Winnipeg Jets and Toronto Maple Leafs clash on Sunday. Neal Pionk was suspensed for two games for kneeing to satrt of the entire melee, Wayne Simmonds got fined for cross-checking, and there’s a hearing today for Jason Spezza’s retaliatory knee on Pionk. What do you see in terms of a suspension from the Department of Player Safety?
McKenna: “It isn’t going to be less than five games. That’s what it comes down to. When you meet in person, these never wind up being less than five games.
Jason Spezza is a guy who …

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Author: Cam Lewis / The Leafs Nation

TLN Top 20 Leafs: #10 Jason Spezza

TLN Top 20 Leafs: #10 Jason Spezza

Father Time has no effect on Jason Spezza, team dad of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Since joining the team in 2019, Spezza has carved out a place on this team as one of the best fourth-liners to ever put on the blue and white and has won over the hearts and minds of even the staunchest naysayers who swore they’d never support the longtime Senator.
It’s no stretch of the imagination to say that Spezza has become one of the most beloved members of this team. He has greatly outperformed his role in both seasons as a Leaf so far, and if the fountain of youth that powers his game holds up, he should easily do that again this upcoming season and in doing so, hit a career milestone.
Five Important Stats
Jason Spezza currently sits at 970 career points in the NHL, just 30 shy of the remarkable milestone of 1000, and folks, he is going to reach it.
In two shortened seasons (58 and 54 regular season games played respectively) as a Leaf, Spezza has scored a total of 55 points, his pace over a full 82-game season, (minus games he may sit out for rest purposes) projects to be in the range …

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Author: Dylan Murphy / The Leafs Nation

Jason Spezza deserves so much better

The Toronto Maple Leafs don’t deserve Jason Spezza.
In the final episode of TLN’s Year In Review coverage, we look at a living legend who, despite watching this team utterly and completely crumple under pressure not once, but twice now, and is still willing to come back for more at way less than market value. All for the love of the game and the love of that absolutely cursed team crest.

Jason Spezza: “If I could take less I would.”
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) June 16, 2021

Jason Spezza deserves so much more than playing for a team that is wasting the twilight years of his career. He should have by rights, taken the first offer he got from a team like Tampa, or Colorado, or any other legitimate contender, make a couple million and at least have a taste of success, rather than come back for more (almost guaranteed) punishment that comes with being a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
There were only two other players on the ice in Game 7 who gave a full, complete effort- William Nylander and Jack Campbell. On a team with two $11-million forwards, Jason Spezza should not have to be both the beating …

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Author: Dylan Murphy / The Leafs Nation

Jason Spezza is pure vintage after scoring 3 goals – Rate That Leafs Game

So, uh, yeah — Jason Spezza had a hat-trick against the Vancouver Canucks. There was no shy of brilliance in this game by the Toronto Maple Leafs, who put seven goals past Thatcher Demko. Auston Matthews had a pair, while Mitch Marner and John Tavares scored the others.
This was one of the best games for the Maple Leafs. Dominant from start to finish. Obviously there are a few tweaks here and there, but a solid performance (even though it was against a team that is struggling. Hard.) The unfortunate part from this game is that Travis Dermott left it and did not return.
Now though, we look forward (after you watch my YouTube video) on the next two games against — you guessed it — the Canucks. I hope you enjoy the video, and if you do, subscribe!

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Win For Jason Spezza

That could have been Jason Spezza’s final game in the NHL.
After playing 1123 regular-season games in the league over a career that spanned 17 seasons, it’s difficult to say what the future holds for the 37-year-old. Other veterans like Henrik Lundqvist and Patrick Marleau had their last-chance Stanley Cup runs ended quickly, and it looked like Spezza was going to join them.
But he didn’t go down without a fight. Neither did his team.
Spezza’s best chance to win the Stanley Cup came back in 2007 with the Ottawa Senators. He was 23 years old at the time and had broken out as one of the league’s top young talents. Spezza posted 87 points in 67 regular-season games and a team-leading 22 points in 20 playoff games. The Sens would end up getting stopped in the Final by the Anaheim Ducks, bowing out in five games.
Back then, Spezza was that team’s version of Auston Matthews — the young, supremely talented centre tasked with carrying his team to success. Now, well over a decade later, Spezza is the veteran, mentoring the players that he used to be.
Spezza doesn’t have the ability to …

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Author: Cam Lewis / The Leafs Nation

What to expect from Jason Spezza this summer

Do you remember that Jason Spezza is a Toronto Maple Leaf? It’s been so long since hockey has happened that sometimes I forget he’s here. But, the hometown boy finally gets to play for his favourite team from Ontario, and we couldn’t be happier (especially at the low, low price that he does it for).
Spezza had an interesting start to the season, which tends to happen when you’re a skilled fourth line center playing for Mike Babcock, especially a Babs full of spite. Not only was Spezza a consistent scratch (behind Nick Shore), he didn’t even get the opening day start. In Toronto. Against Ottawa. It was a dumb thing that Leafs Nation got worked up over, but it was also a dumb thing for Babcock to do.
That said, he had his best season in a few years, and picked it up a bit more once Sheldon Keefe took over, as he had nine goals and 25 points in only 58 games. Not bad production for a fourth line center, huh?
By the Numbers

If we look at Spezza’s fancy stats, he ends up being an pretty effective …

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation