May 30 — Spezza Retires & Figuring Out the Flames

Last Night’s News 📰

LUCKY NUMBER 7: Fans are blessed with another Game 7 as the Carolina Hurricanes and New York Rangers duke it out at PNC Arena tonight at 8 p.m. ET. Both teams played seven games in Round 1, and Rod Brind’Amour’s team is perfect at home this postseason. Can Igor Shesterkin lead his team to victory one more time? 

MARCHAND TO MISS BEGINNING OF SEASON: The Boston Bruins announced that longtime forward Brad Marchand is out to start the 2022-23 campaign as he underwent hip surgery on Friday. He had a hip arthroscopy and labral repair on both hips, with a recovery time of six months. The 34-year-old had 80 points in 70 games this season for the Bruins. 

A WIN FOR FIN: It was the second time this year, and first on home ice, the Finnish national team won gold. Coming off an Olympic championship in February, Sakari Manninen scored during a 4-on-3 power play in overtime to clinch the top medal for the Finns in the IIHF World Championship against Canada on Sunday. 

FILPPULA EARNS EXCLUSIVE MEMBERSHIP: With yesterday’s gold medal, Valtteri Filppula became the 30th member to join the triple gold club—winning the Olympic gold, World Championship gold, and a Stanley Cup. Filppula is the first Finn to reach the achievement after Finland won the 2022 Beijing Games and this year’s Worlds, to go along with his Cup with the Detroit Red Wings in 2008.

PASTA TOO HOT FOR AMERICANS: In the bronze medal game, David Pastrňák tallied three third-period goals to rally Czechia past Team USA 8-4. Czechia trailed 2-0 and then 3-1 to close out the first before rattling off six goals in the final stanza to secure the country’s first medal at the tournament in 10 years.

Jason Spezza Calls it a Career

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Jason Spezza announced his retirement on Sunday after 19 seasons in the NHL. The 38-year-old will move into the role of special assistant to Toronto general manager Kyle Dubas. Spezza played over 1,000 games in the NHL, spending his career with three teams, including 11 years with the Senators. Here is a look back at his long and accomplished career.

From Draft to Lockout

Jason Spezza at the 2001 NHL Draft, alongside Ilya Kovalchuk (first overall, Atlanta Thrashers) and Alexander Svitov (third overall, Tampa Bay Lightning) (THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Tony Gutierrez)

Born on June 13, 1983, in Toronto, Spezza was selected second overall by the Ottawa Senators in the 2001 NHL Draft after playing junior in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). He had an assist in his NHL debut in Oct. 2002 and tallied 21 points (seven goals, 14 assists) in 33 games that season. Those numbers jumped to 55 points (22 goals, 33 assists) in 78 games during the 2003-04 season. With the NHL being in a lockout, Spezza spent the 2004-05 season with the now-defunct Binghamton Senators of the AHL, scoring 117 points (32 goals, 85 assists) in 80 games while winning the Les Cunningham Award as the league’s MVP.

Outstanding in Ottawa

Jason Spezza in 2011 (Icon SMI)

Spezza’s NHL star turn came in 2005-06 when he scored 90 points (19 goals, 71 assists) in 68 games. He followed that up with 87 points (34 goals, 53 assists) in 67 games, then a career-high 92 points (34 goals, 58 assists) in 76 games during the 2007-08 season. That 2006-07 season included the best postseason performance of his career, as he finished with 22 points (seven goals, 15 assists) in 20 games, leading the Senators to the Stanley Cup Final. Spezza never reached those heights again but averaged 64 points per season between 2008 and 2017, in which he played at least six games. That period included two NHL All-Star Game appearances (2008 and 2012).

Post-Ottawa Journey

Jason Spezza in 2021 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

On July 1, 2014, the Senators traded the then 31-year-old Spezza to the Dallas Stars, leaving Ottawa second in franchise history in points (687), goals (251), and assists (436), trailing only Daniel Alfredsson. Spezza spent five seasons in Dallas, totaling 228 points (81 goals, 147 assists) in 379 games and 18 points (eight goals, 10 assists) in 24 playoff games. Five years after leaving Ottawa, he signed with his hometown Maple Leafs, recording 80 points (31 goals, 49 assists) in 183 games for Toronto and six points (three goals, three assists) in 17 playoff contests. In 2021-22, he registered 25 points (12 goals, 13 assists) in 71 games and one assist in five playoff appearances.

Spezza finishes his career with 995 points (363 goals, 632 assists) in 1,248 regular season games and 76 points (28 goals, 48 assists) in 97 playoff games.

What Went Wrong

The Battle of Alberta came as advertised. There was emotion, excitement, and of course, shock and awe. Fans deserved seven games of this series, but Connor McDavid had other plans as he extinguished the Calgary Flames in five. Game 5’s conclusion was more dramatic than a series finale of The Bachelor and as controversial as any South Park episode. Let’s see what went wrong for the Pacific Division champions. 

Calgary Flames

Markström Couldn’t Get It Done

The most obvious answer to what went wrong would be the play of Vezina Trophy finalist Jacob Markström who allowed 6.75 goals above expected in this series through five games. After an impressive defensive battle against the Dallas Stars that included one shutout, he struggled to stop McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and Evander Kane. The Flames goaltender said he wasn’t injured or tired from his 75 starts. He continued to say he wishes he could have played a couple more and had no explanation for his inflated numbers versus Edmonton this year.

Top Guys Didn’t Show Up

Fans know that the playoff heroes are typically the depth guys (J.T. Compher and Darren Helm of the Colorado Avalanche), but a team can only go as far as their stars will take them. Forward Johnny Gaudreau scored once during Round 2, and the goal came in the game that eliminated his team. Matthew Tkachuk earned a hat trick in Game 1 and an assist in Game 2 but was kept off the scoresheet for the rest of the series, while Elias Lindholm had two goals and was a minus-4. 

McDavid on a McMission

Nothing stopped the former first-overall pick from getting to the Western Conference Final. Connor McDavid had two points in Game 7 against the LA Kings to secure his team’s ticket to Round 2 and was the overtime hero in the Battle of Alberta. The Oilers’ captain is on a mission putting up 12 points in five games. He has scored the big goals, played significant minutes, and has continued to carry his team on his back. At least the Flames can say they lost to the best player in the league. 

Player Spotlight – Connor McDavid

Unless you have been living under a rock, you have seen Connor McDavid dominate the first two rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He has 26 points in 12 games and is on pace for 52 points in the playoffs if his team gets to the Final. We know what the first overall pick brings to the ice, but how about his life outside of hockey? Let’s check in.

Edmonton Oilers Connor McDavid (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson)

What Is Your Biggest Pet Peeve?:

Bad driving

Favorite Movie:

Wedding Crashers

What Is One Essential You Can’t Live Without?:

Apple Airpods

Favorite Thing About Edmonton:

The people

What Is One of Your Biggest Fears?:


Favorite Candy:


What Is the Craziest Autograph Request a Fan Wanted You to Sign?:

Someone asked me to sign their forehead

Stanley Cup Playoffs Bracket

Stanley Cup Playoffs Leading Scorers

Today’s NHL Schedule