Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Painfully Close Senators Center Jason Spezza Is Nearly Recovered from Surgery, but He's Not Fully Ready for Upcoming Series against Penguins

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Painfully Close Senators Center Jason Spezza Is Nearly Recovered from Surgery, but He's Not Fully Ready for Upcoming Series against Penguins

Article excerpt

OTTAWA -- Fresh off their first-round demolition of the Montreal Canadiens, the Ottawa Senators had a familiar face back in the fold.

No. 1 center Jason Spezza practiced with his teammates for the first time since having back surgery for a herniated disc Feb. 1 and said it was nice to take another step in his recovery.

"It's been a long process and a long season for me," Spezza said. "It felt good to join the team again and get some reps in.

"It may not seem like it and I may not play this year, but for me it's a small victory."

Despite speculation that Spezza could be done for the season, the fact the 29-year-old took part in a full practice was encouraging.

Spezza, who had been skating on his own before joining the Ottawa's AHL callups for more training, said he had some "ups and downs" over the course of his recovery but made improvements the past few weeks that allowed him to take part in a regular practice.

Whether or not he plays this season depends on how his body reacts.

"I always felt there was going to be a light at the end of the tunnel and when that is I don't know," Spezza said. "But I'm going to keep pushing toward getting better so I can try to play."

The Senators' top center played in just five games this season, scoring two goals and adding three assists, before being forced to have surgery.

Spezza last played Jan. 27, coincidentally against the Penguins.

It's unclear whether Spezza will travel to Pittsburgh, but Senators coach Paul MacLean doesn't seem to have much hope he will play in the first two games of the series.

The coach said he would love nothing more than to have Spezza back in the lineup, but if and when that happens he has to be able to slide right in.

Spezza understands MacLean's thinking and said in no way does he want to be a hindrance to the team.

"As a player you have to be confident," he said. "The only way you're going to have any success if you come back to play is to be confident. …

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