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"You cant win with Jason Spezza as your captain."I have heard that phrase uttered countless times over the past few months, as the Ottawa Senators season has slipped away. In his first season as captain, Spezzas club has been a major disappointment. The Senators fell well short of expectations and predictably, Spezza is taking the lions share of the blame from his harshest critics. I have always said that the Spezza debate in this town is like Coke versus Pepsi. If you are a Coke drinker, its very hard to convince you that Pepsi is superior. The same goes for Spezza - those people who hate him cant be convinced otherwise. Its a black-and-white argument and its virtually impossible to sway someone from one side to the other.Anybody who has read or listened to me over the years knows that I fall into the camp of people who believe the Senators are a better team with Spezza down the middle. But in todays blog, I am not trying to convince anybody about Jasons ability as a player. You can judge that for yourself. What I do want to bring up is the idea that a captain is the person who sets the tone for how his team plays.The critics of Spezza will argue that because he has a penchant for turning over the puck and does not play as well defensively as some other players, he causes his entire team to play with a loosey-goosey mentality. If the guy wearing the "C" is taking risks with the puck, that is setting the tone for the 17 other skaters.Those people say that if Spezza was a real leader, he would play the game the right way in all three zones. He would be a rugged leader, who was more physical. He would be someone like Andrew Ladd of the Winnipeg Jets.If you were to write down all the characteristics you would want in a captain for a Canadian team, Ladd would meet all the criteria.• He is from Maple Ridge, B.C.• He plays the game the right way• He has Stanley Cup rings with two different teamsAnd yet, the Winnipeg Jets are a team that is a mess defensively. They have given up 234 goals – second-worst in the Western Conference.Their captain is there every night supposedly playing the game "the right way". His teammates see how he conducts himself on and off the ice. So why are they so bad defensively?Its because the captain can only do so much. And many times, we overrate the role of a captain on a hockey team. We assign certain characteristics to people and we have a hard time deviating from our original stance. In our minds, Ladd is a great captain – so the problem is with his Winnipeg teammates.But if Ladd escapes the criticism in Winnipeg for failing to get the Jets to play a more structured game, why does Spezza take the heat in Ottawa for the exact same thing?The tricky thing for Spezza is that he is also trying to fill the skates of the previous captain Daniel Alfredsson, who had a mythical status in this town.But before Alfredsson had his breakthrough moment as captain in 2007 in leading the Senators to the Stanley Cup Final, he had just as many detractors in Ottawa as Spezza does now. There was a prevailing sentiment that "you will never win with Daniel Alfredsson as your captain." Those echoes reached a crescendo when Jason Pominville walked around him for the series-ending goal against the Buffalo Sabres in the 2006 playoffs.However, after Alfredsson won over his critics in 2007, he was good for life in Ottawa and was never blamed for any of the problems.When it comes to the team that fell off a cliff in 2007-08 with one of the great collapses in NHL history?"Dont blame Alfredsson, that was all Ray Emerys fault."How about the team that missed the playoffs in two of the next three years?"Lets blame Hartsburg and Cory Clouston. Alfie is a great leader."When the Senators made the playoffs in 2011-12, they did so with the worst goals-against average of any of the 16 teams to qualify for the playoffs. They were kind of a mess defensively that year, but did anybody blame Alfredsson?Of course not.Because they had made up their minds that he was not the problem. Being the captain is all about perception. Alfredsson was always a good leader in Ottawa. He didnt radically change his approach in 2007 when they went to the Stanley Cup Final. Things just finally worked out in his favour and as a result, all of the questions surrounding his leadership vanished overnight.Spezza probably needs time to grow into the captaincy in this town, so he can experience his own defining moment as the leader of this hockey team.Whether he gets that opportunity or not is an entirely different question. Carmelo Anthony Jersey . (January 11, 2014) – Once again Kevin Martin proved why he is the all-time TSN skins leader, winning $11,500 in prize money and a spot in the Travelers All-Star Curling Skins Game presented by Pintys final following a semifinal victory over Brad Jacobs earlier this evening at the Fenlands Banff Recreation Centre in Banff, Alta. Emmanuel Mudiay Jersey . And rest hardly led to rust for the two-time defending NBA champions. https://www.cheapnuggets.com/837y-paul-m...ey-nuggets.html. -- The San Francisco 49ers have re-signed cornerback Perrish Cox to a one-year contract. Stitched Nuggets Jerseys . After Mariota was pushed around by Stanford on Thursday, finishing 20/34 with 250 yards and two touchdowns in Oregons Title hope-crushing defeat, hes going to need a poor performance or two from the remaining frontrunners to have a shot at the most coveted individual trophy in college sports. Byron Beck Jersey .com) - Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien, Detroit Red Wings forward Tomas Tatar and New York Islanders right wing Kyle Okposo were named the NHLs players of the week on Monday.MARTINSVILLE, Va. - Being told he couldnt race last weekend because of an eye and vision problem will not make Denny Hamlin less likely to seek the help of medical staffs available at NASCAR tracks every weekend, he said Friday. Hamlin let Sam Hornish Jr. drive his car last weekend at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., after he sought the assistance of the on-site medical team when his face swelled up and his vision blurred. Initially thought to be a sinus infection, it turned out to be a small piece of metal in his eye, Hamlin said at Martinsville Speedway. Hamlin said he doesnt blame the two doctors who examined him for failing to see the rusting metal, and it wasnt until he saw an optometrist that it was discovered, removed, and he started feeling better. "It took someone who was in the business of eyes to find it," he said. Hamlin has been cleared to return this weekend at Martinsville Speedway, where he has won four times, and he took umbrage at the notion that his reputation might have been tarnished when he missed the race. "People who think negatively of me or think that we side-stepped some sort of drug test or something is ridiculous," he said, adding that he was making an effort not to get angry at the suggestion that something untoward was afoot. "Im in one of the top-tthree cars in NASCAR.ddddddddddddI would have to be an absolute moron — moron — to risk that." Dale Earnhardt Jr., who originally said he was concerned about Hamlins point of view about how he wound up being told he couldnt race, said his concern wasnt for the medical teams competency, but for his fellow driver. "I feel great about the process and what NASCAR has had in place for years," Earnhardt said. NASCAR travels with two registered nurses who have access to each drivers medical records each week, and tracks work with local doctors and hospitals to staff a full trauma unit when cars are on the track. Hamlin, 34, said hes frustrated by spending so much time answering medical questions. The Fontana race was where he sustained a broken back a year ago, and he rushed back into competition hoping to make the playoffs, but came up short. "I feel better than I ever have," he said. "Pilates has changed my life as far as my back is concerned. My back is no longer an issue — knock on wood. Everything — you hate getting attention for those reasons, but a lot of it is because we havent won a whole lot over these last year and a half. "Were going to change that this weekend." ___ Follow Hank on twitter at: http://twitter.com/hankkurzjr ' ' '