On Monday morning the Dallas Stars and general manager Jim Nill introduced the newest member of the team, center Jason Spezza. Acquired from the Ottawa Senators just hours before the start of free agency, Spezza is the next big step for this team in the quest of improving from a successful 2013-2014 season and represents the sincerity of Nill and owner Tom Gaglardi into making the Dallas Stars a winning franchise moving forward.
Nill was as candid as ever during the press conference and revealed some very interesting nuggets about this franchise moving forward, specifically that Tom Gaglardi approved the team to open up the pocket book a bit more and spend more in the hopes of improving.
The Stars GM also confirmed he's already spoken with Spezza's agent regarding an extension, but that they're going to let him get settled in Dallas before moving forward with any serious contract discussions.
"I don't think it's going to be an issue," said Nill. "I just want him to get his family in here, get settled and then we'll move forward from there."
Spezza was as personable as he's always been and showed why he'll likely become a quick fan favorite in Dallas; he's sincere, he's honest and relatable and most importantly -- he's very, very good.
The press conference didn't last too long but there were some great statements from both Nill and Spezza; we've provided the bulk of the press conference transcribed below, and will provide the link to the video once it is made available.
"Over the summer, I sat down with our management team, with ownership-Tom Gaglardi and Bob, the Gaglardi family and Jim Lites and we're all in agreement that we need to take this team to the next level. And to do that, we knew we had to find another centerpiece. We need another piece to the puzzle here to make this team long-term make the next move, the next jump.
"We had success down in Texas. As everybody knows, our farm team won the Calder Cup. That showed that have got some good pieces in place there, have got some kids knocking on the door, some kids with some assets. We had success down in Texas, as everyone knows, that shows we have some good kids knocking on the doors, some good assets.
"As I've mentioned, ownership gave us some financial flexibility to make some moves. We started doing some research, over the past couple of months we started reaching out and we were very fortunate to add the centerpiece that is here today."
On why this was a positive decision for him:
"Yeah, I think there's a lot of positives to this move for me. First and foremost, I think it gives me a chance to compete for the Stanley Cup and at this point in my career is all I'm looking for.
"I've been the No. 1 center where I've been for a long time, but I feel like to win in this League you have to have depth amongst your team and I feel like if the LA Kings and how they won is a lot of strength up the middle, so to be on a team with the center depth they already had before, having myself coming to the fold I think it puts myself and the team hopefully in a good position to compete, so that's the reason why I feel it's a great fit for me, is because I'm just a piece to the puzzle.
"You have to be willing to be that in order to win in this League. I think it's a great fit and to have the young group and some of the young stars they have, you don't see that very often and you hope to kind of grow with the group."
On why Dallas has become a desirable destination for players:
"I think the opportunity to compete, I think it's paramount to be in an organization that's committed to winning. I think that word gets around the League fast that when a team has made a decision to try to be a team that tries to compete every year and win. This city and they've had success in the past and the fans have been great in the past and kind of the total package makes it a desirable place to be.
"So for me, I'm very fortunate to come to a sports city like this that's passionate about the game but also with an ownership group and with Mr. Nill that are committed to trying to win. And as a player, that's all you want, is that opportunity to give yourself a chance to win."
On what he's seen from the Stars lately:
"Yeah, we only played them twice. I watch a lot of hockey though and when you're in the East, you tend to watch a lot of the Western games just because they're on later when you get home after your games, so I've seen a lot of the team.
"It's an up-tempo team. It's a team that plays with a lot of speed. There's some guys on the back end that can move the puck really well, which I think for a forward is very beneficial to have some mobile guys back there and obviously solid goaltending with Kari.
"And it seems like the team played like a team too and that's noticeable when you watch a team play because they use their depth and they use everybody and everybody seemed to contribute. But the pace of the game and the way the team played was probably key to some success they had last year."
On whether he needs a letter on his sweater after being captain in Ottawa:
"Not at all. If you're a leader, you lead. I think I'm a leader and you don't need a letter on your sweater to lead."
On the Western Conference:
"It's difficult. It's a great conference. I think that makes you a better team. This league is so hard to win in, it's so hard to make the playoffs. I think that by keeping yourself on your toes, by playing that style of hockey all season will only help you in the playoffs. The competition level makes you a better team and prepares you for the battles in the playoffs."
Finally, Jim Nill had a great quote on if this move shows the team's commitment to win sooner than later:
"Yes it is. When we came here, we knew there were some holes that had to be filled. We sat down and last year we were able to add Tyler Seguin and that filled a major void and we got a couple other signings. So now you start the season, you don't know how it's going to fit together and as I mentioned before, it was a new management team. It was a new coaching staff.
"There was just a lot of moving parts that we didn't know how it was going to come together. And as we got into February, we realized you know what, there's something special here and we ended up we made the playoffs with a great run to get in the playoffs in a tough conference as we witnessed during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"We are in a tough, tough conference but that's good. That's going to make us better. So we went into the playoffs and I think we gave Anaheim everything they could handle. It could have gone either way and that's the way the playoffs are but we knew then that we still had to make another step.
"And that's when we sat down with our ownership and our management team and said we got to make that next step, it has to happen. And as the summer went on and the spring went on, we realized that Jason may be available. As I mentioned, our farm team was very successful. We knew we had the assets. It was the time to do it. There's kids knocking on the door. We have our depth now and like I said, this shows that we're here now.
"Adding Jason Spezza, if you look at the scoring race last year, we would have three of the top-30 scorers on our team if Jason was with us with his production and what he did last year in Ottawa, we'd have three players in the top-30 scoring. That doesn't happen very often other than with two or three teams in the League.
"Somebody mentioned about him kind of being kind of the second line. I really look at it, I think it's a 1A and 1B. Jason Spezza is in the prime of his career. He's an elite player. Having Tyler Seguin and Jason Spezza out there as your two centermen coming out the door, when we go on the road, other teams are going to have a tough time matching up against us.
"Lindy Ruff and the coaching staff have lots of options and the other players we have on our team, it just adds to kind of the potential that we have moving forward. We're excited about the depth. I've talked to Lindy. We have lots of options. There's going to be injuries in the game. We have lots of options there, so this is definitely a statement that we're making a move, we're here and we're looking forward to the season starting."