Worth the weight loss

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 10:49 AM ET

Speed kills. Especially in the revamped NHL. So, on the cusp of a new season, Jarome Iginla is sporting a noticeably new look.

A much leaner Calgary Flames captain will walk into the Saddledome today, when the club's veterans report for fitness testing, after shedding some 10 lb. of mass over the summer.

Iginla is as trim as he has been in ages.

"It's been a while, probably three or four years," Iginla said just before a rain-soaked 9 a.m. shotgun tee-off yesterday for the annual Flames Charity Golf Classic at Country Hills.

"Over the years, I probably put on a couple of pounds. You work out just trying to get stronger and stronger. This year the focus was a little bit different, not so much worried about strength and able to take a few pounds off.

"Not pounds of fat," he added with a laugh.

Iginla credits his metamorphosis to a new off-season focus on speed and agility in order to adapt to the new NHL rules which debuted last year.

The 29-year-old right winger decided late last season to alter his workouts -- including the addition of once-a-week yoga sessions -- after a relatively disappointing 35-goal campaign.

"Personally, I wasn't happy with the way last season went," said Iginla. "As a team, we had a good regular season -- a great regular season -- but it didn't go totally the way we (would have liked).

"But also, as a forward being out in offensive situations, we were one of the lowest-scoring clubs. I'd like to contribute more."

Iginla feels speed will help him accomplish that.

"I feel a little lighter," he said. "Part of it's also mental. You feel like you lose weight and you should be quicker.

"I feel good and I just can't wait (for the season to start)."

The flexibility and new-found speed boost combined with the obstruction crackdown could translate into a career year for Iginla.

"Before, especially when I was younger coming in, if a d-man got you in a corner or something, the strength was the biggest thing. I noticed the difference when I first made the jump to the NHL," said Iginla.

"Now, not being able to grab guys the way that we were able to ... they're better rules -- I think it's a quicker game -- but, as a result, strength isn't as important and speed's more important than ever."

And how about that Yoga?

"Yeah ... a few of us did do a little bit," Iginla said, grinning at the mention of a practice often considered off-limits to your typical beer-swilling alpha male.

"I did it more for flexibility and to relax a little, I guess."

Flames winger Chuck Kobasew has been into yoga for a couple of years and joined his captain for a few of the off-season sessions.

"I think there's more and more guys that are starting to do it," said Kobasew. "It's a lot of core strength and it's a lot of focus on your stretching."

Not all of Iginla's teammates, though, were sold on the idea of inversions and backbends.

"Jarome tried to bring me out when I was in Kelowna," said defenceman Andrew Ference, who spent a lot of his summer cycling and even got Iginla and Kobasew to do some time trials on road bikes in B.C.

"I did (yoga) a couple of times -- too many men in spandex and no shirts.

"I'll stick to biking."


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