Senators lose Spezza 6-8 weeks
Centre tore knee ligament in Monday's loss to Maple Leafs
Jason Spezza might not return to the Ottawa Senators until after the Olympic break in February.
An MRI on Tuesday night determined the 26-year-old centre has a torn ligament in his right knee that will keep him out of the lineup for six to eight weeks.
"They're kind of giving me that as a timeline right now, but I'm just going to see how it goes, and obviously try and get back a little sooner," Spezza said following the team's morning skate Wednesday. "It's obviously disappointing and whenever you get hurt, it's never a good thing.
"I'm just looking forward now and trying to move forward and get better."
Spezza injured the medial collateral ligament in Monday's 3-2 loss to Toronto, saying he felt something "pop" in his right knee after getting tangled up with Leafs forward Lee Stempniak after a faceoff late in the third period.
It appeared Stempniak rolled up on Spezza's leg as they battled for the puck. Spezza hobbled to the bench and was helped off the ice.
Spezza has struggled mightily for much of the season, but appeared to be breaking out of his slump with goals in consecutive games, including Monday against the Maple Leafs. He has five goals and 19 points in 30 contests this season, and on pace for his worst offensive output since recording 21 points in 33 games as a rookie.
He went the first 10 games of the year without a goal and missed the next two contests with a back injury before finally notching his first goal of the season. He then went another nine games before scoring again.
That performance effectively ended the slim chances Spezza had of cracking Canada's Olympic roster after he was a late invite to Hockey Canada's development camp in August when Anaheim's Ryan Getzlaf withdrew with a back injury.
With Spezza and his salary-cap hit of $7 million US on the shelf and little room remaining under the cap to make a deal, the Senators are now left trying to fill the void internally.
It's players like Jesse Winchester who will be asked to help out, with the 26-year-old expected to join captain Daniel Alfredsson and Milan Michalek on the team's top line.
"I guess there's added pressure, but I've just got to approach it the way you approach any other games," said Winchester, who has two goals and six points in 16 games this season.
Forward Josh Hennessy was summoned from Ottawa's American Hockey League affiliate in Binghamton, N.Y., to take Spezza's roster spot for Wednesday's home game against the Buffalo Sabres.
With files from The Canadian Press