Bid adieu to Iginla?

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:20 AM ET

One byproduct of the NHL's cannibalization that Flames fans must consider: Don't be surprised if Jarome Iginla has played his last game for the team. Let that seep in for a second.

Sure, the league's skaters need a severe dose of reality -- which won't come until they realize the league is actually willing to tear down and rebuild from scratch -- but that would be a huge hit for this city's hockey scene.

What it will take for the NHL to get up and running with cost-certainty -- gawd, I hope to never hear that phrase again -- is completely up in the air.

It may happen in the next month or two when the players realize the gravy train is completely gone, or in a couple of years once all the litigation necessary to get an impasse is complete.

And with that, Iginla could be long gone, either a free agent by whatever the new rules become or firmly entrenched in Europe.

Fans have the right to disagree with the captain's views on the lockout, and many cheer more for the sweater than those in it, but the way Iginla has always contributed in this city on and off the ice was first-rate.

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RINK RAP: Count former Hitmen fan favourite Matt Kinch as another player to lose his job because of the lockout. Kinch was toiling with Salzburg in Austria until being pushed out a week ago because of the NHL players on their working vacation ... From the department of petty, the NHL decided to rescind access to the league's media website to a handful of reporters. Anyone who's read enough copy during the lockout could probably guess who. So much for freedom of speech ... Can't help but wonder if the number of subscribers to the NHL Network has increased through this mess ... Appropriate TSN was showing the Westminster Kennel Club dog show immediately after its steady stream of Armageddon coverage following Gary Bettman's announcement of the season's cancellation Wednesday ... As if you needed any more reason to question the integrity of NHLers toiling in the UHL, Sean Avery, Bryan Smolinski, Derian Hatcher and Chris Chelios parently lacking the guts to play on the road -- passed on their team's Saturday night clash with Danbury. That left the Motor City Mechanics with only 14 skaters in their 9-3 loss.

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AROUND THE HORN: Alex Rodriguez may shrug it off as his teammates being classy but shouldn't the $252-million man be a little worried none of them is standing up for him against all the sniping coming from the Boston Red Sox? Especially with the way they've stood up for the kinda-admitted steroid user Jason Giambi ... Tried to watch the Daytona 500 but even the last three laps couldn't pull me out of my seat. It's going to be a long spring ... Anyone looking for another reason to hate the Red Sox, take note the only other cancelled Stanley Cup playoffs came in the spring following Boston's last World Series crown. The curse of the Bambino strikes again.

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LAST RITES: For the bride who needs everything, don't forget to check out the website www.thegartergallery.com. That's right, your blushing wife-to-be can show her love of whatever NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, NASCAR or college team. My fave is the Oakland Raiders model (there are eight) with a motorcycle as the centrepiece.


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