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Sens’ Spezza skating with Black Aces, nearing return

May 10, 2013, 12:22 PM EDT

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These are good times in Ottawa.

After winning an opening-round series against Montreal on Thursday, GM Bryan Murray took to the airwaves on Friday morning and made a big announcement — last year’s leading scorer, Jason Spezza, appears close to a return from back surgery.

“He’s skating much harder, competing much better, and feeling much stronger,” Murray told The Team 1200 on Friday. “Skating with the Black Aces is a more serious involvement for him.”

Ottawa has a healthy contingent of Black Aces — the team’s current taxi squad — with AHL Binghamton out of Calder Cup playoff contention.

It’s a deep, talented group that includes three of Ottawa’s last four first-round draft picks: Cody Ceci, Stefan Noesen and Matt Puempel.

Spezza, who finished fourth in the NHL in points (84) last year, underwent surgery to fix a herniated disc on Feb. 1.

He hasn’t played since and still needs to knock off a few layers of rust before head coach Paul MacLean considers putting him back in the lineup, according to Murray.

“He’s got to practice a few times with the team before Paul thinks about making a change,” Murray said. “But there’s light at the end of the tunnel.”

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