Spezza gets Olympic team invite

Jason Spezza will get a shot at the 2010 Olympics after all.

Ottawa Senator’s centre Jason Spezza is excited about being called to Team Canada’s orientation camp.

Jason Spezza will get a shot at the 2010 Olympics after all.

After being passed over when the 46 invites were sent out in July, the Ottawa Senators sniper was added to Team Canada’s orientation camp roster Tuesday.

Two spots at this month’s camp opened up when Anaheim Ducks forward Ryan Getzlaf needed extra time to recover from off-season surgery and 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 Monday to extend the invitation to the Aug. 24-27 camp in Calgary.

“I think 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 with five IIHF World Championships under his belt. He collected seven goals and four assists at the 2009 tournament in May in Switzerland, 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 Sens last season — considered an off year for him — as 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 humbler perspective heading into the camp.

“It definitely motivated me,” said Spezza.

“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.”

Spezza won’t be the only Senator with something to prove at the camp. Dany Heatley, who asked for a trade from Ottawa in the off-season but is still with the team after nixing a proposed deal to Edmonton, will also be in Calgary.

Spezza dismissed the suggestion there would be tension between the two teammates.

“I think when you go to something like that, whoever they put you with, they put you with,” he said. “When they put you with guys you’re comfortable with it’s sometimes an advantage.

“I think there’s only one day of scrimmage, so they’ll decide who plays with who and we’ll go out and play. With any guy that you play with anywhere it’s obviously a bit of an advantage because you know each other a little more so it can help you in something so short like that.”

Hockey Canada didn’t say if or when the other vacant spot on the orientation camp roster would be filled.

The final 23-man Olympic lineup is expected to be announced in December.

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