Jason Spezza‘s motivation at this point in his career isn’t complicated. He just wants to win a Stanley Cup.
For that reason, the 38-year-old is returning to the Toronto Maple Leafs for a third-straight season at the league-minimum salary. He’s made his millions; winning is all that matters now.
“I know where the team’s at with the cap and everything. And I’ll be honest, all I care about is playing on a good team and just trying to win. So if I could take less I would,” Spezza, who has earned nearly $89 million over his career according to CapFriendly.com, told reporters Wednesday.
“You know, I love playing the game. I love competing. The chase of a Cup is at the forefront of my mind, you know, daily. And anything I can do to kind of help the team acquire better players, that’s kind of why I just take the league minimum and want to move forward.”
The comment is significant as the Maple Leafs navigate a complicated off-season where management will try to improve on a roster that dominated the North Division but fell short in the playoffs. With a flat salary cap and an expansion draft on the horizon, the Maple Leafs could look very different next season so keeping Spezza under contract at the lowest possible salary will give GM Kyle Dubas more flexibility.
On the ice, the shortened 2020-21 season was Spezza’s best in a while. The Toronto native had 10 goals and 30 points in 54 games, his highest point total since 2016-17. Still, the Maple Leafs were knocked out of the first round of the playoffs, denying the 18-year veteran a chance to sip from the Stanley Cup again.
Despite the longer than planned off-season, Spezza says he’s already back working to make sure he’s at his very best when the puck drops this fall.
“I don’t know, maybe I’m delusional, but I think I can get better and I’m going to try to improve on last season,” Spezza said. “So I’m right back in the gym already and trying to figure out what tweaks I can make to feel even better throughout the year.”