Spezza embraces Senators' new direction Staff

7/22/2008 7:04:45 PM

After a dismal season on the ice, the summer has certainly brought about a season of change for the Ottawa Senators.

And those moves have obviously not been lost on centre Jason Spezza, who hosted his third annual golf tournament in the Ottawa area on Tuesday.

"I've lost some good friends in the last couple of months," he told reporters on the course. "I think we expected it. Any time you lose out early you expect it."

Perhaps what the player didn't expect was one of the biggest shake ups in franchise history. Plenty of players ended up with new addresses, with lifetime Senator Wade Redden, former No. 1 goaltender Ray Emery and veteran centre Cory Stillman among them. And for the third straight season, the Senators will also have a new head coach in Craig Hartsburg.

A major reason for cabinet shuffle in the nation's capital was the perception that there was a lack of chemistry in the room, something Spezza found puzzling.

"To critique how well we got along in the room was a little bit upsetting to us," he explained. "Because we were a lot closer team than people thought. Just because you lose a hockey games, there is no way you can change as much from a team that had great chemistry the year before to a team all of the sudden supposedly hated one another. We had good chemistry in our room."

The new chemistry lesson for the upcoming season begins with new additions Jason Smith and Jarkko Ruutu, and the Senators' No. 1 centre is already looking forward to working with general manager Bryan Murray's acquisitions.

"We brought in Jason who is a good leader who plays hard," said Spezza. "Jarkko Ruutu plays pretty hard and is pretty gritty. I think that's what Bryan was kind of looking for our team to add and felt like we needed."

And the changes in Ottawa may not be done yet, as Murray still has restricted free agents Antoine Vermette and Andrej Meszaros to sign. Both players are looking for money in the neighborhood of $3.5 million a season and that might just be too pricey, leading to speculation of a possible sign and trade option.

With files from TSN's Brent Wallace in Ottawa.