OTTAWA - Jason Spezza isnt quite sure what to expect when he steps on the ice at Canadian Tire Centre for the first time as a visitor.Spezza, who spent 11 seasons of his career with the Senators, returns to Ottawa on Thursday as a member of the Dallas Stars. The 31-year-old requested a trade at the conclusion of last season and was eventually dealt to Dallas on July 1 in exchange for Alex Chiasson, Nick Paul, Alex Guptill and a second-round draft pick.Its obviously different coming in as a visiting team and its nice to see some familiar faces and people that I spent a lot of time with, Spezza said. Felt good to be back on the ice and its a date thats been circled on my calendar so its nice to kind of have it here and get it over with (Thursday).Coming in a day early gave Spezza the opportunity to catch up with a number of friends at the arena before focusing on Thursdays game.Spezza plans on keeping things as close to routine as possible, but knows emotions will likely be heightened when he hears the fans reaction during warm-ups.Fans are passionate so I hope that Im remembered as giving my all and having success here, Spezza said. I expect them to support the team too. Theyve always supported the club, but hopefully they appreciate I gave everything when I was here and tried to do all I could to help us win.Spezza says he will always look back at his time in Ottawa with fondness — for the most part.I think it was mostly positive, but no doubt there were frustrating times, Spezza said with a laugh. There were times, many times, I left this rink shaking my head and wondering why we cant get over the hump or what were doing wrong. Looking back theres probably a little regret that we didnt win. I think we were so close for a three, four-year period there where we had as good a team as anyone in the league.Spezzas final year with the Senators was his only one as captain.Im disappointed I was only captain for a year and then asked for a trade to move on, Spezza said. Its unfortunate the timing, the way it was. It was a tough decision to ask to be moved because I was captain and because that was a proud moment for me to be named captain and I always wanted to become a leader.I take the game very seriously and I respect those things. I respect the order of command in the dressing room and I knew the impact it would have, but I think the guys in the room understood that it was time. But it is disappointing that you had to leave on that kind of note after one year as captain.Unlike when Daniel Alfredsson chose to sign with the Detroit Red Wings as a free agent in 2013, there was no little outrage at Spezzas request. If anything many felt it was the right time for the two sides to part ways.Spezzas younger brother and his parents will be on hand for the game.During his time in Ottawa, Spezza was often hailed as a hero or maligned as the root of all that was wrong with the Senators. Despite being a point-per-game player, Spezza never seemed to be able to earn the undying support of the Senators faithful.While Spezza may be unsure about his return, his former teammates believe he deserves nothing less than a warm reception.With regards to (Spezza) we have all the respect in the world for him, I know I do, said Ottawa defenceman Marc Methot. He was a heck of a teammate to have here. Fan reaction, you can never really predict that, but as far as Im concerned I believe it should be positive.Hes contributed so much to this organization on and off the ice that he deserves that respect. If it were up to me and I was watching the game I would certainly be giving him a lot of positive vibes.Forward Bobby Ryan expects Spezza will experience a range of emotions, but overall believes the game will be a positive one for all involved.It will likely be emotional for him and the guys that were with him for a long time, Ryan said. Outside of that I think hell get a video, which is well deserving of what he did here for the community and the organization, but after that I think theyll cheer for us and boo him like they did (Alfredsson) and Im sure he expects that.Notes: Colin Greening cleared waivers and is expected to join the Binghamton Senators. Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson announced Wednesday that Daniel Alfredsson would be given the key to the city on March 5. 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The Flames are in the midst of a six-game slide (0-5-1), their longest losing streak since an 0-6-3 skid from Jan. 11-28, 2010. They havent won since Nov. 3 in Chicago and most recently went winless on a three-game homestand.OAKLAND, Calif. -- Sonny Gray spent the past few days with Oakland pitching coach Curt Young, making subtle adjustments to his delivery. Grey wont reveal exactly what he and Young worked on. Suffice to say, the Athletics young staff ace is pleased with the results. Brandon Moss hit a tiebreaking RBI double in the fifth inning, and Gray bounced back from two sub-par outings to lead Oakland over the Texas Rangers 4-2 Wednesday, giving the Athletics (44-28) the best record in the majors. "Overall it was a pretty good outing," said Gray, who had won just two of eight starts before going seven innings against Texas and striking out seven. "I dont think there really is a difference other than I was able to make pitches," he said. "Thats probably it. People sometimes forget that baseball is a pretty hard game and theres going to be some rough patches that youre going to go through." Grey (7-3) bounced back nicely from his recent rough stretch. The right-hander needed only 31 pitches to get through the first three innings, then struck out Brad Snyder on a high 95 mph fastball to end the fourth with runners at second and third. Grey also got help from left fielder Yoenis Cespedes, who made a leaping catch at the warning track to rob Adrian Beltre of extra bases two batters before Snyder struck out. His lone mistake came in the fifth when Texas loaded the bases with two outs. Gray walked two and gave up an infield single before Shin-Soo Choos two-run single made it 2-2. "Its just balance for him," As manager Bob Melvin said. "He knows his delivery (and) his mechanics pretty well, and Curts terrific at pointing out subtle things. There are a couple things hes been working on." Cespedes and Josh Donaldson each had two hits for the As. Oakland has won four of five and is a season-high 16 games over .500. Their record is one game better than cross-bay rival San Francisco. "Anytime in the season that you can say you have the best record in baseball, its satisfying," Melvin said. "But theres a lot of baseball yet to be played. At least for the time being it feels good." Luke Gregerson pitched the eighth, and Sean Doolittle worked the ninth for his ninth save.dddddddddddd Nick Tepesch (2-3) went five innings for Texas. Choo drove in both runs for the Rangers. "We have to get more than five innings out of our starting pitching and we have to have a shutdown inning after we score runs," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "Somehow that (Oakland) lineup is always functioning. Somebody is always having a good day." Melvin shuffled his lineup and didnt start centre fielder Coco Crisp and second baseman Eric Sogard. Oaklands offence didnt miss a beat. John Jaso replaced Crisp in the leadoff spot and knocked in the As first run with a double in the third. Craig Gentry, who filled in at centre field, added two hits and scored a run. Second baseman Alberto Callaspo also had two hits. That was enough for Gray, who gave up two runs and six hits. He improved to 8-2 with a 1.90 ERA in 13 career starts against teams from within the As division. "He was keeping us off balance," said outfielder Alex Rios, who doubled off Gray in the fourth. "He managed his slider well. and his fastball had good velocity. He was locating it well." Cespedes scored the go-ahead run in the bottom of the inning. He singled off Tepesch and scored on Moss double to right, barely beating the throw home with a headfirst slide. After Donaldson singled Moss to third, Stephen Vogt hit a short sacrifice fly to left to put Oakland up 4-2. Tepesch remained winless since May 26. He allowed nine hits over five innings with two walks and one strikeout. NOTES: Doolittle hasnt allowed a run in 22 1/3 innings, the longest active streak in the AL. ... Crisp was given a normal day off. ... Sogard pinch-ran after Callaspo singled in the ninth. ... Rangers 3B Luis Sardinas singled in the third to extend his career-best hitting streak to seven games. ... Texas LHP Joe Saunders (0-2), who will pitch the opener against the Angels on Friday, has allowed two earned runs or fewer in four starts since coming off the DL. ... Oakland LHP Scott Kazmir (8-2), who opens the series against Boston on Thursday, has a 0.95 ERA over his previous four starts. ' ' '