Jason Spezza, the Mississauga-bred centre for the Ottawa Senators, walked into a dressing room recently. Before he sat down, he hopped over the equipment bag belonging to Mike Cammalleri, the Montreal Canadiens forward, and settled into a spot across from Jeff Skinner, the NHL rookie of the year, and Wojtek Wolski, the New York Rangers winger.

Why was the foursome of pros, slated to make a combined salary of about $20 million next season, spending a summer's day at the decaying Vaughan Iceplex, where the goal nets, like the walls, have holes? They were there to see Jari Byrski, the noted skill development coach.

Byrski, who'd been talking on the phone, ended his call.