SUN Hockey Pool

Soon to be Iggy Pops

ERIC FRANCIS -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:05 AM ET

Any day now, the life of Calgary's favourite son will be inalterably changed.

Jarome Iginla will shortly become Iggy Pops.

Then again, according to his two best friends, Iginla has always been a sort of father figure.

"When he was a kid we called Jarome 'Big Daddy,' " said childhood pal and best man, Mike Moran, who got the name from baseball player Cecil Fielder.

"It just seemed to fit. It's ironic now that he's actually going to be a Dad."

In a year in which he's been named Flames captain, starred in a Stanley Cup run and won a World Cup, there can be little doubt the St. Albert star is about to experience his finest hour.

Fatherhood.

With the original due date for their first child slated for the end of October, it's to the point Iginla's wife, Kara, could give birth any day now.

"He's got a feeling it's a girl but they don't know," said Moran while driving up to St. Albert to see the happy couple.

"He's calm, cool and collected but he's definitely excited. I don't know him to get nervous about anything, not even on his wedding day. He's ready."

Does that mean hockey's premiere power forward has been busy during the lockout decorating the baby's room?

"Ah, no -- Kara's in charge of decorating," laughed Iginla's mom, Susan Schuchard.

"But he offers her wonderful support -- he wants to do anything he can to make her more comfortable. Men can't know what women go through but he's trying to be understanding. He's really a Rock of Gibraltar. Everyone wishes there was a season but for their first baby she gets to have him there. It gives her a lot more security."

Given the leadership, class, patience and good humour Iginla's exhibited on and off the ice since he was introduced to Calgary eight years ago, few doubt he'll be a father of the year candidate annually.

"He treats people with kindness and respect. And growing up with Jarome, I know how good a person he is -- kids catch on to that stuff," said Moran, 27, training in Calgary to become a firefighter.

"He'll be a great dad -- I just think he'll put the kid first. He knows how important it is to have a parent there for those little moments that are so important to a kid.

"I think with Kara they'll be great together as a team. That's going to be one happy kid."

One scrappy kid, too, joked Iginla.

"My mom said I was a terror and they say your kids are just as bad, if not worse, than you," said Iginla, 27, who has kept a low profile of late. "I'm sure ours will have a lot of energy."

Forever grateful to his mother for her support as a hard-working single parent, Iginla has pointed out how much it meant to have her or his grandfather attend his athletic endeavours.

"I believe he'll carry that on with his kids," said Schuchard.

"I know he also understands the importance of quality time and he'll make every moment count. He's going to be one proud dad. He has a lot of love to give -- they both do. He was asked why he had such a passion for children and he said it was because he enjoyed his childhood and was, in his words, blessed."

And while the sports world debates whether Tiger Woods' relationship, engagement and marriage to Elin Nordegren has contributed to his downfall in the world rankings, no one dares suggest fatherhood will affect Iginla's career negatively.

"I think it's going to make Jarome want to make his children proud and it will affect him in a positive way because he is a public figure," said Schuchard.

"Only good can come out of it," added Moran.

"It might inspire him even more and give him a reason to play harder because he knows his kid might be watching him. In terms of getting nervous or soft, no way."


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