SUN Hockey Pool

What's up with hat?

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:26 AM ET

ANAHEIM -- The Calgary Flames' hard hat has morphed from a scratched-up green lid to a shiny, golden prize.

Maybe, then, it's fitting the helmet has been awarded to game stars rather than the unsung hero a couple of times this season -- albeit to the dismay of former Flame Craig Conroy.

Jarome Iginla's former linemate brought a tradition from St. Louis to Calgary when the old green hat was discovered at the Saddledome.

Conroy decided to use the hard hat to honour the team's unsung hero in each victory during the 2003-04 season.

Conroy told the Calgary Sun last week he was a little miffed when he saw Miikka Kiprusoff sporting the new gold hard hat after starring in a win over the Edmonton Oilers.

"I saw Kipper wearing it after a game. He got a shutout, so he had to have been named a star. That's not what it's for," said Conroy, who signed in L.A. as a free agent after the playoff run in '04. "That doesn't make me happy. I'll have to talk to Iggy (Jarome Iginla) about it, give him some grief."

That call hasn't been made but Iginla claims nothing has changed.

"It's the same criteria that he had. Must be a misunderstanding," said Iginla, who hadn't read his former centre's comments.

"Sometimes, it happens to be a game star."

Another game star sported the hard hat after the Flames' 3-2 win over Conroy's Kings Sunday night.

Chris Simon was given the award by rookie Dion Phaneuf -- the previous owner of the lid.

"It's not a committee who picks it," Iginla explained. "It's the guy who had the previous one. We don't go in there and debate about it. It's who the guy feels had a huge impact on the game and, hopefully, with plays that aren't always seen on the scoreboard.

"If he feels a guy was just too good that game and did it all ... that's his choice. That's part of the reward of winning it. You can't give a guy grief for who he picks."

Simon, who scored a pair of goals in the win over the Kings, is a perfect example of an unsung hero who finally had a breakout game in the statistics department but had been building up to that moment without previous accolades, says Iginla.

"Si's been playing hard," said Iginla.

"That game, the bubble burst. He did it all that game, so it was deserving."

The same could be said for Kiprusoff when he sported the hard hat after a 3-0 shutout over the Oilers. He struggled to start the season but had been upping his game before finally looking unbeatable.

Whether or not the hard hat award has truly changed will become clear after a few more have been handed out.

Blueliner Jordan Leopold said the team will have to talk about it.

"We never clarified anything on that yet," said Leopold with a laugh. "The guys who have won it have kind of given it away to game stars. Of course, it's more of an unsung-hero award. We'll have to have a word in the locker-room about that."


Photos