The Toronto Maple Leafs have today announced that veteran forward Jason Spezza has decided to retire after 19 long seasons in the NHL.
Since suffering yet another Game Seven disappointment in the playoffs, there has been plenty of talk over which players the Toronto Maple Leafs would look to add to the roster this off-season.
However, now the talk is on a player that the team will be without for the 2022/23 campaign as Jason Spezza has officially retired from playing and will move into a new role in the team’s front office effective immediately.
Spezza has been a staple of the NHL since making his professional debut with the Ottawa Senators during the 2002/03 season – having been selected second overall by the Leafs’ Ontario rivals back in the 2001 NHL Draft.
Ever since breaking into the NHL, the 38-year-old has managed to rack up an impressive 1248 regular season appearances, scoring 363 goals and putting up 995 total points across spells with the Senators, Leafs and the Dallas Stars.
Along with his plethora of regular season appearances, Spezza also featured in 97 games during the post-season, with 28 goals and 76 total points – with the pinnacle of his career coming during the 2006/07 season.
During the year in the Canadian capital, Spezza played alongside Dany Heatley and Daniel Alfredsson in a sensational line that took the Senators all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals – where they lost in five games to the Anaheim Ducks.
After spending a season as captain of the Senators in 2013/14, Spezza was dealt to the Stars – where he spent the next five seasons before joining childhood team the Toronto Maple Leafs ahead of the 2019/20 season.
Spezza played three solid years with the Leafs and became a fan favourite, defying age to be a productive player and positive mentor both on and off the ice – with his desire to remain in Toronto evident when it was said that he would retire should the Seattle Kraken select him in the 2021 expansion draft.
Spezza was unable to help the Leafs overcome their consecutive years of first round playoff exits, with yet another disappointment against the reigning champion Tampa bay Lightning the final memories of his long and illustrious professional career.
Now that he has hung his skates up, Spezza will stick around in Toronto and will work as the Special Assistant to the General Manager for incumbent GM Kyle Dubas – with his years of experience in the game valued highly by the organisation even after he steps off the ice.