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For five seasons, Jason Spezza has heard it all about how he is just a one dimensional player.
And he's is eager to get this season going. The Senators' No. 1 centre is ready to show his new coach Craig Hartsburg that he's prepared for the next step in his career.
"It's a stigma," Spezza told TSN at the team's informal skate on Tuesday. "You talk to a lot of good offensive players who go through it when they're young and it's a stigma you go through until you break it. And once you do break it you become the all around great player."
Ottawa fans got a glimpse of that type of player in May, as Spezza - who has averaged more than a point per game throughout his National Hockey League career - showed at the World Championships that he is capable of playing a different style of game.
"I think I'm getting better and better as a defensive player," he explained. "I think I can play in more situations as the years go on and I think I'm getting better at understanding I need to play a more all around game."
That's an encouraging statement for Senators' head coach Craig Hartsburg, who is ready to assign his more responsibilities to his top playmaker. "With him we are going to try and push him to another level and use his skills and even give us more in other areas," he said. "And I think at this point of his career and the talks I've had with Jason, he's excited about that challenge."
One of the elements in improving Spezza's game could involve breaking up his line with Dany Heatley and Daniel Alfredsson. It's a move that was discussed in training camp last season, and Spezza is open to the idea if it improves the team.
"I look forward to the year and to the challenges," he said. "And I think I'm maturing more as a player and with all that comes the understanding of what you have to do differently."