Toronto Maple Leafs: Disappointing to see Jason Spezza a healthy scratch
Jason Spezza said he was disappointed to hear that he would be a healthy scratch ahead of the Toronto Maple Leafs home opener and he has a reason to be.
From the start of training camp, it was clear Jason Spezza was in for a tough road to earn Mike Babcock’s trust and a regular spot in the Toronto Maple Leafs lineup.
After signing a league-minimum contract and get the chance to play for his hometown team, Spezza will watch from the press box as the rest of the team takes the ice for the home opener. Let’s just say the reaction to that has not looked good on the Leafs head coach who decided to put in Nick Shore to play on the fourth line.
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We don’t know what was promised to the 36-year-old by general manager Kyle Dubas and Babcock when they made the pitch in free agency but you can guarantee this wasn’t part of the deal.
It’s one thing to make him a scratch on back-to-backs or try to keep a regular rotation with Shore or whoever the team has to bring in, it’s another to do it in a game Spezza was probably looking forward to all summer long.
“It’s more disappointing because it’s the opener,” Spezza told reporters after morning skate. “Definitely you want to be a part of these games, they give you things to get excited about.
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed, but I’m also a professional and I’m going to get ready to go.”
To be fair, we are talking about a player who is playing on the fourth line but you have to wonder why Babcock is making this so tough. According to the head coach, he told reporters it has to do with the number of reps the veteran has had on the penalty kill… but isn’t that what training camp was for?
Obviously, Babcock’s job is to ice the best team but you have to think he could have given Spezza this moment against an Ottawa Senators’ team that’s not exactly an elite team in the NHL. At the same time, this is a challenge for Spezza and hopefully, he can put aside the disappointment of missing out on opening night.
This is certainly an adjustment for the veteran but he knows the big goal should be to bring a Stanley Cup to Toronto and that will be the bigger reward than playing on night one of the season.
What are your thoughts on the Leafs not playing Spezza on opening night? Do you think he and Babcock can remain on the same page? Let us know in the comments below.