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Jason Spezza Announces His Retirement

from the Toronto Maple Learfs,

Statement from Jason Spezza:

"I love hockey. Since the age of three, I've been lucky enough to live out my dream and do what I love for so many years," said Spezza. "I eat, sleep, dream hockey and it's always been there for me. There are too many people to thank individually but I'm forever grateful and indebted to the Ottawa Senators, Dallas Stars, Toronto Maple Leafs and Hockey Canada for their support and belief in me as a player and person. To my teammates, coaches, support staff, trainers and equipment staff - a heartful thank you for everything. Through countless hours at the rink - whether on the ice or with those behind the scenes - I have been so fortunate to have forged friendships for life.

Hockey has been my life's work and to be able to come home to Toronto and bookend my playing career where it started was incredible. To the fans - in Ottawa, Dallas, Toronto and across the league - your impact on the game is immeasurable. I'll never be able to replicate that feeling of stepping onto the ice to the roar of the crowd, but it is something I'll always remember. Thank you.

Looking forward, I'm very grateful to the Leafs for the amazing opportunity to transition into this new role. It enables me to continue to follow my passion; learn and live new experiences within the game I love.


Filed in: NHL Teams, Toronto Maple Leafs, | KK Hockey | Permalink


d ca's avatar

Spezza just wasted the twilight of his career in Toronto. He signed team-friendly deals near the league minimum. Yet, it was their decision to keep him as the 4th line centre that may have been a decent part of their playoff advancement problem—the Leafs could have used that quick, young, shot-blocking PK specialist much more than the offensive focused Spezza.

For those that didn’t catch it, Spezza is only 3 months older than Mark Giordano. And they gave Giordano (who will turn 39 around opening night a two year deal). People celebrated the move—just like the celebrated Spezza’s deals.

Yet, the analytics show something different: they are making the same mistake again. Giordano’s defense was never his trademark. At 37, he ceded his PP QB role and his TOI dropped to that of his rookie year on playoff contending Calgary. His xGA/60 made his exposure to Seattle an easy decision (they knew they could flip him at the deadline for something so his selection was just as easy of a decision). Even ignoring the Kraken’s historically bad defense, his seasons in Calgary weren’t any better ( -1.5% xGF and -3.9% xGA). So clearly he’s not the player he was even 3 seasons ago defensively. And his offense prior to his arrival (and time on the PP2 unit) showed decline as well going by xGF%.

As Spezza’s retirement proves, every 38 years old athlete’s clock is ticking and father time is knocking on the door.

People associating his 4th line role in Toronto should remember he was once part of the best line in hockey: Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza, and Daniel Alfredsson which led the lowly Ottawa Sens to the Stanley Cup Finals before the cheap owner broke them up after missing the playoffs due to injuries.

Because players’ primes are starting to get younger (and contracts reflecting pay for future performance not past ones) these type of deals will be more common. Yet, as shown in Toronto’s playoff runs—they might be a part of their failure,

Posted by d ca on 05/29/22 at 02:49 PM ET


I think you make great points about Spezza—all backed up with solid analytics. And I had the same feeling a week or so when Giordono signed that ‘I love Toronto’ contract, doing Dubas a great favor, contract wise, but Dubas was foolish to bring him back at this age. Given that many people believe that Toronto failed to advance primarily due to a weak blue line, bringing Giordono back at this age does not make them any better.

So far, they are minus one aged forward (Spezza), freeing up something like $800K. They have at least 5 players to re-sign, the main one being Jack Campbell in net. Is Dubas banking on getting him at a discount? Will Campbell command upwards of $5 million a year, especially when the likes of Kenny in Edmonton is riding an almost 41 year old goalie in MIke Smith?

It will be interesting to see how much the Leaf team changes this summer, and what form it will take.

Posted by exor54 on 05/29/22 at 03:20 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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