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It was the final day of training camp in September of 2001 and I opened the door to the Senators coaches office. There, I saw a teenaged boy with tears in his eyes, being consoled by strength and conditioning coach Randy Lee. Jason Spezza had just been delivered the devastating news that he would be returned to junior hockey – the final victim of the roster cuts made by general manager Marshall Johnston and head coach Jacques Martin. At the time I was a fairly inexperienced member of the Senators PR department, but I knew that Spezza was not ready to deal with the media. He flatly told me he didnt want to answer any questions that morning. However, it was just past 10am and reporters were going to start trickling into the building at any moment. We made the decision to get Jason out of the rink before any cameras showed up and caught footage of him looking so despondent. I went outside to the hallway and found that an Ottawa Citizen reporter had been the first to show up. But there was nobody else around, so I told him he needed to have his photo taken for his 2001-02 season pass, and I walked with him down to the security area. And once I did that, Lee helped escort Spezza out of the rink going the opposite way – so that nobody from the media could see him. I dont think you could really blame him in that situation. He was 18 years old and just had the rug pulled out from underneath him. He exceled at every level when it came to hockey, so being returned to the OHL was something he never fathomed. A few hours later, Jacques Martin would make his infamous statement that Jason was "a boy playing a mans game" – and maybe it was true on that day. But it seemed like that label stuck to Spezza for his entire tenure in Ottawa, like a stubborn piece of gum at the bottom of his shoe. He was never quite good enough for some people in this market. Even after his heroics as a 19-year-old in the playoffs in 2003 – when he scored a goal and added an assist in a must-win Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final against the New Jersey Devils – there were lingering doubts about his ability as a player. The very next year, Jacques Martin made him a healthy scratch for several playoff games against the Toronto Maple Leafs. A trip to the Stanley Cup Final in 2007 didnt cement his status in this town, even though Spezza tied for the league lead in playoff scoring. Just a couple of years later, he was booed on home ice during a Game 4 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2010 playoffs. That was almost enough to drive him out of town, with general manager Bryan Murray hinting that Spezza told him he was amenable to a trade if one could be executed. And yet three years later he was still here, now wearing the captains "C" on his jersey - which only seemed to make the target on his back even bigger. It was a roller coaster with Spezza from the onset and it seemed the ride never stopped. Every game seemed to be a referendum on whether or not you could win with him. After a while, it gets tiresome. Tiresome for the player. Tiresome for the fans. And tiresome for the organization. And yes - even tiresome for people like me who work in sports talk radio. There are days when I would just have to say "Jason Spezza" on the air and our phone lines would light up. Finally, Spezza himself has had enough. Bryan Murray admitted to the reporters on Wednesday that Spezza has asked to get off this ride. And Im not sure I can really blame him. Hes spent 11 seasons here and has more than paid his dues. In the next few days, you will likely read a ton of internet comments suggesting that Spezza never really embraced Ottawa. And that if he cant stand the pressure of playing Ottawa, he shouldnt let the door hit him on the way out. From my perspective, though, Spezza handled the pressure in this market as well as he could have. He was made the scapegoat on many nights when the team lost. And when he was the star in a Senators victory, too often the sentiment was, "why cant he do that every night?" I believe that day as an 18-year-old was the only time that Jason Spezza ever knowingly ducked the media. He stood in the line of fire and took his lumps on a daily basis for more than a decade. To suggest that he doesnt have the mental toughness to handle a Canadian market is completely erroneous. The guy just spent 11 years in this market, was a point-a-game producer and wanted to be named the captain of this team 10 months ago. If thats shying away from the limelight, I think youre sadly mistaken. We can debate whether the media or the fans pushed another star out of town in Ottawa - although this one feels a little different than the forced departures for guys like Dany Heatley and Alexei Yashin. Daniel Alfredssons exit last summer was a punch in the stomach that nobody saw coming. Spezzas imminent departure, on the other hand, is more like a gradual erosion; something that was inevitable. And when he finally does leave Ottawa, I can guarantee you Jason Spezza wont be shedding any tears. Felix Hernandez Jersey . The team let Keaton Ellerby, James Wright and Matt Halischuk become unrestricted free agents after declining to make them qualifying offers. Ellerby, 25, appeared in 51 games for the Jets last season and had two goals and four assists. Jean Segura Jersey . -- The Grand Rapids Griffins scored three goals in 33 seconds of the second period en route to defeating the Hamilton Bulldogs 6-1 in American Hockey League action on Friday. http://www.marinersrookiestore.com/ .J. -- The Houston Astros had the No. Ichiro Suzuki Jersey . The Brazilian heads into Saturday afternoons race coming off a close runner-up finish to Ryan Hunter-Reay in the Indianapolis 500. Carlos Ruiz Jersey . 5 Trade Deadline is drawing closer and teams will be deciding on whether to buy or sell.DETROIT -- After only 86 pitches, Minnesotas Phil Hughes left the game with a shutout in progress. Afterward, he not only endorsed the move, but said he helped his manager make the decision. "Every pitcher has a certain amount of pride. In the seventh, I felt like my stuff and location were deteriorating," Hughes said. "You dont want to give the game away just because youre feeling prideful." Hughes pitched seven innings, and the Twins beat Justin Verlander for the first time in over four years, 2-1 on Friday night. Kurt Suzuki hit a two-run single off Verlander in the seventh. Hughes (4-1) allowed eight hits in his fourth consecutive win, but he was fine letting the bullpen take over for the final two innings. "The catcher and him both said, Hes losing it," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "If a pitcher feels that hes losing it off the ball and starting to misfire, then youve got to take him out of the ballgame. Him being honest there allowed us to get our bullpen up going." Casey Fien pitched the eighth, and Glen Perkins allowed a run in the ninth but held on for his ninth save in 10 chances. Verlander allowed two runs and seven hits in seven innings. He struck out five and walked two. The start of the game was delayed 27 minutes by rain, but the teams played through an emergency alarm that went off in the top of the ninth. The Tigers later said there was a mechanical fire in a janitor closet that was quickly contained and put out. "I almost took off running," Detroit outfielder Torii Hunter joked. "Im thinking biohazardous or something." Players paused briefly, then the game went on. The injury-plagued Twins snapped a three-game losing streak. Star first baseman Joe Mauer sat out a fifth straight game. Hes been dealing with back spasms. Alex Avila hit an RBI double off Perkins with one out in the ninth, but pincch-hitter J.ddddddddddddD. Martinez popped out and Rajai Davis struck out to end it. Hughes lost 14 games last season for the New York Yankees, but the right-hander has pitched well after signing with the Twins in the off-season. He struck out Avila with men on first and third in the fourth, and got Miguel Cabrera to fly out with two on and two out in the fifth. Hughes struck out three, and he went a third straight start without a walk. He began this game with 13 straight strikes. "They werent all strikes in the zone. They were hacking," Hughes said. "When youre around the plate and pop a fastball up every now and then, theyre going to be aggressive and swinging at it. Thats kind of what I am. Sometimes it hurts me a little bit if Im around the plate too much, but when I have good stuff, its usually all right." Verlander (4-2) escaped jams in the second and third, but he couldnt retire Suzuki with the game on the line in the seventh. It was his first loss in his last 10 decisions against the Twins. The last time they beat him was April 27, 2010. "Pretty good for the first six innings, but I wasnt great in the seventh," Verlander said. "I had a couple inexcusable pitches. It wasnt that I made mistakes, but I got away from the pitches I wanted to throw." In addition to Mauer, Minnesota is also without outfielder Josh Willingham, who has a left wrist contusion, but the Twins were able to beat the Tigers without any extra-base hits. NOTES: It began to rain hard in the top of the fifth, but there were no more weather delays once the game started. ... Detroits Victor Martinez had his hitting streak snapped at 11 games. ... The Tigers transferred the injury rehab assignment of RHP Luke Putkonen (right elbow) from Class A West Michigan to Triple-A Toledo. ... 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