Jim Nill with new Star Jason Dickinson as he puts on a team jersey after being introduced as the number twenty-nine overall pick to the Dallas Stars during the 2013 NHL Draft at the Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
Stars General Manager Jim Nill won NHL Free Agency this off season. The Stars are almost unanimously considered to have made the best acquisitions and moved themselves from fringe playoff team to serious Stanley Cup contenders. The key component is 31 year old Center Jason Spezza.
Among the 5 or so quality Centers that were available through either Free Agency or trade Spezza always seemed the most likely to land in Dallas. Rumors of the possible trade had been flying around for days and It seemed Nill had tipped his hand a few days before Free Agency opened in an interview with Norm Hitzges on the Ticket,
“I would say it would be nice to get a second line center iceman. It’s either that or, in my dreams, I dream about a number one defenseman, but in reality, those guys just aren’t out there. They don’t come along and now, the reason why I say (we need a) center is because I’m excited about our backend. When we just won the Calder Cup down in Texas, we got four kids down there who are all knocking on the door. They’re all very close.”
Apr 10, 2014; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; Ottawa Senators center Jason Spezza (19) skates with the with the puck in the second period against the New Jersey Devils at the Canadian Tire Centre. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports
It sounded like Nill was touting how great his young defenseman were in order to use them as trade bait but in the end he sent none of them north for the Ottawa Senators Captain. Alex Chiasson, Alex Guptil, Nicolas Paul and 2015 2nd round pick were all it took with only Chiasson having any NHL experience.
The Stars now have one of the most formidable one-two punches in the NHL with Spezza and Tyler Seguin as their top two centers. The rest of the league has already taken notice.
Mar 22, 2014; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Stars left wing Antoine Roussel (21) and Ottawa Senators center Jason Spezza (19) shove each other during the third period at the American Airlines Center. The Stars defeated the Senators 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Fun Facts about Jason Spezza the Stars new Center:
- Drafted #2 overall in 2001 by the Ottawa Senators behind only Ilya Kovalchuck
- Winger Ales Hemsky was taken 13th in the same draft. Hemsky was traded to Ottawa late last season and scored 17 points in 20 games playing primarily with Speeza. The Stars signed Hemsky to a 3 year deal the same day they traded for Spezza.
- Speeza was told about the Stars signing Hemsky while on a conference call with reporters discussing the trade, “That’s great. I haven’t seen that. If he has signed with Dallas, I’m thrilled because we had great chemistry at the end of the year. So it’s nice to hear. We played on a line for what was he there for, 23, 24 games, we played on a line together, so we got to know each other pretty well pretty quickly. So that’s exciting for me for sure.”
- Won a baby contest at the age of 1 that led to a modeling career that included a Minute Maid commercial at the age of 5 and at the age of 7 he modeled clothing for Kmart and Woolco
- Scored 353 points in 228 career games in Juniors
- During the NHL Lockout of 2003-04 Spezza won the Les Cunningham Award for Most Valuable Player of the AHL while playing with the Ottawa Senators affiliate Binghamton Senators. He also won the John B. Sollenberger Trophy as the league’s leading scorer
- Has 687 points in 686 career NHL games making him one of only 5 active players with a Point Per Game average over 1
- Was a reserve on Canada’s 2006 Olympic team but has not been back since. He has been quoted as saying he uses what he perceives as a snub as motivation. Tyler Seguin was left off of Team Canada’s roster this year and had similar things to say about motivation.
- Spezza grew up as a Dallas Cowboys fan and remains so today
- Married Jennifer Snell in October 2009. They have two Daughters. Sophia Donna Spezza, 4 and Nicola Patricia Spezza, 2.
- Spezza will wear #90 in Dallas. He has worn #19 his entire career but #19 is retired in Dallas to Bill Masterson. Masterson is the only player in NHL history to die as a direct result of injuries suffered during a game, the result of massive head injuries suffered following a hit during a January 13, 1968, contest against the Oakland Seals. The Bill Masterson award is given annually by the NHL to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to ice hockey.