Canada invites Spezza to Olympic camp
CALGARY, Alberta (AP) -- Jason Spezza has gotten another shot to make Canada's Olympic hockey team.
After being passed over when 46 players were invited in July, the Ottawa Senators center was added to Team Canada's orientation camp roster on Tuesday.
Two spots opened when Anaheim Ducks forward Ryan Getzlaf needed extra time to recover from offseason surgery and longtime Colorado Avalanche captain Joe Sakic declined to attend after retiring from the NHL.
That left Spezza at the top of executive director Steve Yzerman's list. Yzerman called the Toronto native on Monday to extend the invitation to the camp, which will be held Aug. 24-27 in Calgary.
"I was just excited for the opportunity," Spezza said during a conference call. "I don't know if I was any more relieved or anything but I was just excited. I had still made it one of my goals, even though I wasn't invited to the initial camp, that I was going to try to prove to them I belong on the team and have a good start to the season."
Spezza is no stranger to playing for Canada, having taken part in the hockey world championship five times. He had seven goals and four assists in this year's tournament, including Canada's lone goal in a loss to Russia in the gold medal game.
But Yzerman's initial pass on Spezza may have had more to do with what he did in the NHL than with his international performance. Spezza recorded 32 goals and 41 assists with the Senators last season -- considered an off year for him -- and Ottawa failed to make the playoffs just two years after reaching the Stanley Cup final.
The Senators' troubles and Yzerman's rejection in July have given Spezza a more humble perspective heading into the camp.
"It definitely motivated me," Spezza said. "It definitely opens your eyes a little bit and puts a little fire in the belly, too, when you don't get named to something like that. Maybe the way it's worked out with me not getting named and now getting the chance to go might be a blessing in disguise."
Hockey Canada didn't say if, or when, the other vacant spot on the camp roster would be filled. The final 23-man Olympic lineup is expected to be announced in December.