Jason Spezza's first year as the Senators captain has turned into a nightmare.

Will there even be a second?

The Ottawa centre will enter the final season of his contract in October, but it seems management has a decision to make in the months leading up to it.

Will there be a concerted effort to get Spezza inked to another deal? If he hits the open market July 1, 2015, there should be a line up of teams willing to offer him a long term, big money pact. Is GM Bryan Murray prepared to give him the length of contact the 30-year-old will likely command?

If not, he'll have to trade Spezza -- you don't let a commodity like that go for nothing -- and this summer would seem to be the appropriate time to do it, if only to avoid a major shake-up during the 2014-15 campaign.

Where does Spezza presently stand on the topic of his future?

"At this point I haven't given any thought to it at all," he said Sunday afternoon at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. "We're so in the thick of things right now, that's the farthest thing from my mind."

What the Senators are in the thick of is a great big mess, as they have dropped six consecutive games to fritter away their playoff hopes. Spezza has mostly done his job, scoring 19 points in his last 14 games and showing his old form since the Senators finally found a winger (Ales Hemsky) to play with him.

But as the leader, he is expected to do more. His countless critics expected him to pull the team into the post-season tournament, even if he had to do it single-handedly. Call it the curse of Daniel Alfredsson.

As the Senators prepared to play the Lightning, the lightning rod for the wrath of their fans was being blamed for everything and anything, as usual.

Spezza knows it comes with the territory.

"I've been here (for 12 years) and it's always been the same," he said. "I didn't expect anything to change (as captain). When things go well, they go well. When they go bad, usually you get blamed. So it's nothing out of the norm for me.