MacLean says Spezza isn’t close to joining Sens

Ottawa Senators' Jason Spezza takes part in training camp at the Scotiabank Place Ottawa on Tuesday, January 15, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Ottawa Senators’ players have been making miraculous recoveries from injuries lately, but it doesn’t sound like Jason Spezza will join that list — at least any time soon.

The star centre, who has been sidelined since undergoing back surgery on February 1, isn’t expected to return for the start of the playoffs next week.

“I think he’s been skating, but he’s at the public skating stage still. It’s significant because he’s started skating, but it’s public skating really,” said Paul MacLean on Friday, giving his most detailed update on Spezza this month. “He’s not even close to joining the team I think.”

On Thursday, Erik Karlsson made a stunning return to the lineup just 10 weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a torn achilles tendon. And earlier this month, Jared Cowen came back after he was told he would be out for the entire season with a hip injury. But Spezza’s back injury appears to have him sidelined for at least the first round of the playoffs if this latest update is any indication.

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MacLean acknowledged that Spezza is back on the ice, but only for basic skating drills. Karlsson and Cowen spent multiple weeks under the eyes of coaches Jason Smith and Marc Powers before their returns and clearly Spezza isn’t at that point yet. And until he starts doing more rigorous training with those coaches and rejoins the team, there remains no firm timeline for Spezza’s return to the lineup.

“Much like with Jared and Erik we weren’t hoping. I just basically wait until they come in say they’re ready to play,” explained MacLean. “I don’t like sitting around hoping and hoping that anything is going to happen. I like knowing way better. And until I know Jason is going to start practicing with the team and be able to play with the team, it doesn’t even concern me. And I know that might be cold, but I’m only concerned with the guys that are available to me and who we can put on the ice to win the game.”

The Senators are expected to open the 2013 playoffs on Wednesday and MacLean hinted he may give several players the option of resting for the season finale in Boston on Sunday if the game does not have significant playoff implications for Ottawa.

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