Don't rule out Jason Spezza for the run to the playoffs.
He certainly hasn't.
The Senators' No. 1 centre made his first appearance before the media Friday since having surgery to repair a disc in his back a week ago in Toronto and told reporters he's determined to play before the end of the season.
Spezza, 29, was told by doctors not to do anything for two weeks. After that, serious rehabilitation can begin. There is no timetable for him to resume skating, but judging by the calendar he can go back in the gym next Saturday.
While it's going to be awhile before Spezza goes back on the ice, the plan is for him to be back before the end of the regular season in April and in time to try to help the Senators have a deep run this spring.
"Everything went well. It's good to have everything done and get started on recovery now," said Spezza. "You always aim to push your rehab and get a bit more aggressive with things.
"(Athletic therapist) Gerry (Townend) has already talked to me about making sure we're doing things right and not getting too carried away. The goal is to get back before the end of the season and, hopefully, help us through the end of the year and the playoffs."
Spezza, who played in Switzerland during the lockout, said he felt good before the Senators' six-day camp. The back started to act up during the first week of the season and the pain reached its peak after a Jan. 27 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
"It was really bad," admitted Spezza. "It just got to the point where there was no way I was going to be able to play. It makes it frustrating, but there wasn't really much of an option once we got down to it."
Spezza, who had back surgery in 2006, said he wasn't in pain for long before it was decided that something had to be done.
"It's a little bit different. It's the same part of my back, but different," he said. "It kind of happened in a different way. Last time, it was really gradual over a long period of time.
"This time, it was gradual but it came on pretty sudden. It got worse than it was last time. There was more of a reason to worry (what was happening) right away."
Jason Spezza hopes to return to Ottawa Senators before end of regular season
Ottawa Sun | Feb 9