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Maple Leafs’ Spezza: If I Could Take Less Money I Would!

Earlier this week, the Toronto Maple Leafs veteran forward Jason Spezza met with the media to discuss his decision to return for another season with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The question put to him was direct and to the point: the interviewer asked him: “You aren’t exactly breaking the bank again with this contract. Can you talk about why it works for you and for the team?”

Here’s Spezza’s answer: “I know where the team is at with the cap and everything. I’ll be honest — all I care about is playing on a good team and trying to win. If I could take less, I would.”

Jason Spezza Upper Deck Card Maple Leafs
Jason Spezza Upper Deck Card Maple Leafs photo via Upper Deck

He added: “I love playing the game. I love competing. The chase of the Cup is at the forefront of my mind daily. Anything I can do to help the team acquire better players, that is kind of why I take league minimum and move forward. It’s been a few years now, so I don’t think it is a story anymore, but I just want to play on a good team. Anything I can do to help that is great.”

Related: Zach Hyman’s Big Decision: The Maple Leafs or the Money?

How Many Players Would Do What Spezza Did, When He Could Probably Earn More?

My hockey friend and great Maple Leafs’ fan Stan Smith is as much of a Spezza fan as I am. In an email a few days ago, Stan noted to me:

“Spezza being willing to pay for league minimum really shows his dedication to the team now. His $750,000 is subject to a 20% escrow this season which he will never get back, bringing his pay down to $600,000. Then he gets another 10% withheld which brings it down to $540,000. Then  he gets taxed on that. For us that is still a lot of money. For a person who is used to making millions a season, and could easily be making at least double that elsewhere (Florida maybe?). That is dedication to a team.

Spezza Feels He Can Contribute and He Wants To

In a video interview just before Spezza was signed by the Maple Leafs, Spezza spoke about his desire to return for another season with the Maple Leafs. He feels as if he still has a lot to give, and wants to win.

Spezza Has Invested in the Maple Leafs’ Organization

During the interview, Spezza noted “I feel like there’s a lot of unfinished business. I feel very invested in the group here, and I’m hopeful that I get another opportunity to do that again next year and push this team over the top.”

He also admitted that, at his age (he turned 38-years-old last week), “I love the game, (however) I think I realized that my opportunities to win are becoming less and less and that probably creates a high level of desperation internally for me to be my best everyday.”

Related: Maple Leafs Would Win Stanley Cup with a Bunch More Jason Spezza’s

The Maple Leafs Will Be Good, But Will They Be Good Enough?

We know that the Toronto Maple Leafs will be a good team, but will they be good enough. It might be that this season will be Jason Spezza’s last in a Maple Leafs uniform. I hope the team wins for a lot of reasons; however, one is just for his sake. He’s giving up lots to be here with Toronto.

However, I have been thinking this for much of the season. I think it would be great if Spezza remained with the organization. No matter what happens with the team this season, Spezza has earned a place in the fans’ and the organization’s heart and head. I’d love to see him stay in some front-office capacity.

But that’s for another year! Right now, it’s getting ready for a strong 2021-22 season.

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