In case you missed the news yesterday, free agent addition Jason Spezza did NOT suit up for the Toronto Maple Leafs last night in their season opening game against the Ottawa Senators.
It was obviously a tough pill to swallow for the veteran Spezza who grew up as a Leafs fan in nearby Mississauga, Ontario and specifically signed a one year deal to play for his childhood team. But, just as you might expect the classy Spezza took the news as a true professional.
Leafs fans and media analysts at TSN though weren’t happy with head coach Mike Babcock’s decision and have come to Spezza’s defence.
Check out this quote from former Leafs player and TSN 1050 co-host Jeff O’Neill:
“I quite frankly think it’s a joke. I mean Jason Spezza signed for peanuts to play here. He shows up early to help out with the young guys and then you put that in his face. And another thing going forward, in the next five years they’re going to have to look for players to sign for nothing just like Jason Spezza did. And when (potential signings) see that message, they might say, ‘screw that, why would I want to put myself through that?’ “
“He decided to come here and play a role and you’re telling me Jason Spezza can’t go out on the ice and help dominate the fourth line of the Ottawa Senators. And you use the excuse that he’s got to brush up on his penalty kill?”
“I think we can all agree how Mike Babcock feels about Spezza,” said fellow TSN analyst and former Leafs player Carlo Colaiacovo. “We knew it was going to be a rocky relationship. And that’s fine, that happens. Don’t make it an example on the first game of the season, especially the home opener. Just let the guy play and then you worry about everything else after.”
“This is about Babcock being small,” Steve Simmons of the Toronto Star said. “Think of it from Jason Spezza’s point of view. This is his hometown, this is the team he chose to sign with and the team he grew up watching as a kid, playing the team that he got famous playing for. A perfect night for him, or what should have been a perfect night, and Babcock made a story out of something that didn’t need to be a story.”
But the best rant of all came from former NHLer and one of Babcock’s former players, Mike Commodore. It’s not exactly a secret that Commodore does not like Babcock based on how the former was treated by the latter during their brief time together with the Detroit Red Wings.
Check out Commodore’s epic Twitter rant concerning the Babcock and Spezza situation:
Not going to sugarcoat it… it’s an extremely petty move by Babcock and you just KNOW that it didn’t play well in the Leafs’ dressing room.