Jason Spezza: “Priority number one and two for me was giving yourself a chance to win”
On whether he was a fan of the Leafs growing up and if it factored into the decision:
They were. Growing up in Toronto, I don’t think there were too many kids who were not. It gives me a great chance to play on a very strong team and have a chance to win near the end of my career. It’s also just a great opportunity, I think. After talking to the team, I liked the way things sounded. It’s really exciting just to play on a team that’s good.
On whether winning was priority number one:
For sure. That was priority number one and two for me, probably, was giving yourself a chance to win and putting yourself in a good position. We are not going to be able to play forever. I feel like I have some good years left in me, but you still want to put yourself in a good spot.
The league is so wide open now. It’s not like the older days where you could just pick out the two or three teams that have the best chance. Everybody has got to come ready. I feel like Toronto gives me a really good opportunity to play on a deep team.
On what the Leafs said in particular that was enticing:
I had a good chance to sit down with Babs and also separately with Kyle. It’s just that I am going to be a complementary piece for the team and at different times my role will change. Being on the second power-play unit, being able to play on special teams both ways, taking faceoffs — kind of what I expected. I think the biggest thing is I just wanted to make sure there was a good role for me and somewhere where you can contribute. I think [I got] answer to those questions and now it’s up to me to put the work in and come to camp ready to go.
On what it will mean to him to put on the blue and white sweater:
It seems a little surreal right now. I think it will probably mean a lot to my family — just being close, I’ve got four little girls that will love being around the relatives and grandparents all the time, so that was a big consideration, too. I think it is just a nice way for my family to be able to watch me play. For me, I just thought it was a great opportunity to play and be on a good team. There were a lot of reasons why [I chose Toronto]. Money and everything else didn’t become an issue. It was a good fit and I was going to make it work.
On whether he was getting a hard lobby from his family:
I knew where they stood. They weren’t involved in the process because I knew. They know me pretty well and they know at times like this they’ve got to give me my space. I didn’t have to ask to know where their vote would be.
Cody Ceci: “I’m excited for the opportunity to play in Toronto with some of the best players in the world”
Ceci on finding out about the deal:
It was pretty crazy when they first called me about the trade. First off, I’ve just got to thank Ottawa for the opportunity to play in the NHL. Playing in your hometown is always special and it’ll be tough to leave, but I am just excited for the opportunity to play in Toronto with some of the best players in the world.
Ceci on the criticism he faced in Ottawa:
I don’t know. We had our ups and downs. Two years ago, we made it to the Conference Final. We had a great team and the next year we just didn’t follow up on that. We took a lot of criticism and changed our team around a little bit. It was tough the last couple of years. Nobody really wants to be the whipping boy or whatever you want to call it, but it was tough. They’re just trying to change the team around now and get back to where they were a few years ago and are moving pieces around.
Ottawa will always hold a place close to my heart. I am from there and started my NHL career there, but it’s time to move on now. I am a part of the Leafs organization and I am really excited.
Ceci on the opportunity in Toronto:
I am definitely lucky to get the opportunity to be part of the Maple Leaf organization and what they are trying to do there. Even just watching the Raptors and seeing how passionate all the fans are there this past year, it was pretty special. To be a part of that and hopefully get back to where we were a few years ago with the Sens and get into the mix of things with the Sens in the playoffs would be fun.