It's only ten games in but Jarome Iginla is already in line for some major hardware on NHL awards night.
No, not the Rocket Richard Trophy or the Art Ross.
The Lady Byng.
With just two penalty minutes heading into last night's game, the man with a reputation as the game's premier power forward has exhibited qualities akin to that of the NHL's most gentlemanly player.
A victim of the new NHL that has sacrificed intensity and physicality for scoring and speed, Iginla has done little to demonstrate the grittiness that has long fueled the game's most complete player.
It wasn't until late in Thursday's win over Edmonton that the Flames captain has shown any sort of emotion, slamming his stick on the glass as he loudly protested an unwarranted penalty call handed to him thanks to Jarret Stoll's dive. Truth is, he didn't even deserve his two minutes -- something the Professional Hockey Writers Association will have to consider when voting.
Other than that, Iginla has not registered the type of hits or passion that has long pumped him, his teammates and Flames fans up.
Early in Iginla's career, Flames coach Brian Sutter used to lose sleep trying to find ways to get the winger involved in the game consistently. Eventually a pattern established Iginla was at his best when involved in a fight or some rough stuff early on, firing him up. Opposing teams soon started realizing it was never worth waking the giant.
Gone with the obstruction across the league are the big hits, the battles on the wall, the shoving after the whistle and the fights where Iginla fed off of. Somehow in today's sanitized NHL, Iginla must find other ways to get his head into the game or the Lady Byng will be his and the playoffs will be missed.
Now, more notes, quotes and anecdotes from a sports world at peace now that Marcus Crandell finished yesterday's game by returning to the form that landed the Stamps more than two dozen games below .500 under his guidance:
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AROUND THE HORN: Watching Jeff Garcia lead the Detroit Lions seven weeks after shattering his ankle reminded me there's no quarterback in pro football I'd rather watch than the former Stamp. He may be past his prime but the only quarterback who combines toughness, creativity and heart like he does is his mentor, Doug Flutie ... Great headline: The nays outweigh the eyes in visor debate ... In a 48-hour span, Mike Peca's stick clipped Shane Doan in the face, Matt Barnaby used his weapon to accidentally clobber Ed Jovanovski in the mouth and Chuck Kobasew stuck it to the face of Marc-Andre Bergeron. No league demonstrates the lack of respect amongst players like the NHL does, making it even clearer visors soon have to be mandated to protect players from themselves. Bryan Berard can suggest the careless fashion in which players wave their sticks is a result of visors but the bottom line is players aren't going to start taking the windshields off. Players like Rhett Warrener are going to add to the list putting them on.
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PARTING SHOTS: Regardless of the findings of the school's hazing investigation, you can bet your bottom dollar if McGill was 5-1 instead of 1-5 the season wouldn't have been cancelled for the once-proud football team ... With names like Wes Walz and Shawn Horcoff on the list of 81 players eligible to play on Canada's Olympic team, one has to wonder if pickin's got so slim that no. 82 would have been Theo Fleury ... Quick, name the coach of the New York Islanders. Didn't think so ... Ricky Williams' therapist has covered more ground than the Dolphins running back the last two weeks as he's rushed 11 times for seven yards. He's smoked joints longer than his 0.6 yards-per-carry average ... After his retirement, Brett Hull was quietly being lauded as 'an inspiration for the young guys' by Coyotes GM Mike Barnett last week who praised Hull for losing 18 lb. since he arrived in training camp. What's more, Hull apparently lost 14 lb. before he arrived in camp ... Two Australian golfers defied the odds last week by hitting successive aces on the same hole. Mathematicians said the odds of that were one in more than 100 million or equivalent to the chance of seeing Bob Hartley named coach of the year.