SUN Hockey Pool

Iggy loud and clear

RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:22 AM ET

As much as Jarome Iginla knows head coach Jim Playfair has taken the brunt of the city's anger, he understands plenty of fingers are also pointed his way.

The captain and undisputed on-ice leader of the Calgary Flames is well aware a chunk of the club's recent troubles rest on his shoulders.

Which means it's on him to help lead the way out of the wilderness.

Expect Iginla to give what he can on the ice -- he's certainly been their best player the last two games -- but you can't help but wonder if the time has come for him to raise his voice in the dressing room.

You know the idea: Provide a fire-and-brimstone speech, break sticks or scream and yell to ignite his team, which has a mere four-point edge on Colorado for eighth spot in the Western Conference chase.

Fans may think such a development isn't in Iginla's repertoire but he insists -- even if he's not planning to do it in the next couple of days -- it could happen at some time.

"It's not out of character," Iginla insisted yesterday.

"The funny thing is, I'm not the quietest guy. I don't walk around and just whisper at guys. We're not scared to tell people things."

Iginla insists there isn't a leadership void in the dressing room.

"Whatever you think of me as a captain -- good, bad or whatever -- we've got good leadership in here," Iginla said. "Rhett (Warrener) has been in the finals three times, we've got Stephane Yelle, we've got (Darren McCarty) who's won, (Wayne Primeau), (Robyn Regehr), (Craig Conroy) is an ex-captain and has been an assistant everywhere he's been, (Tony Amonte) has been a captain. We've got good leadership.

"It's not like we're without a rudder, just floating around happy about how things are going. We're not happy with the way we're playing and not happy we're not winning. But we do believe we're gonna turn it (around) and know we have to be more determined and have to be more gritty.

"We've talked a lot but it comes down to doing it."

Still, all eyes are on Iginla.

And with the way the Flames have seen a 12-point lead on Colorado shrink to four in a little more than two weeks, a colossal collapse will raise doubts about his role.

However, Amonte said that would be misguided.

"If Jarome sees something that's not right and he doesn't agree with it, he's gonna speak up and that's what makes him so great," said the veteran forward.

"He's not afraid to speak his mind, he'll tell you exactly what he thinks. If he feels a guy needs a pat on the back, he's gonna give him one and if a guy needs a talking to, he'll set a guy aside and say, 'We need more tonight.'

"You can't really tell unless you're there every day.

"Jarome's a guy everybody looks up to and looks to for leadership and a guy who always seems to rise up in the big games. He knows when the games are on the line, can feel it and sense it."

Besides, Amonte pointed out, at this time of year, the onus to pull their game together doesn't have to fall on Iginla.

"Nobody can make you want to do anything. You have to want it from within," Amonte said. "And if you don't, it's not gonna happen. For our team, it's got to come from within each player and you've got to want it as bad as the guy sitting next to you."

That said, Iginla has a message to say: Focus on the task at hand and embrace it because he believes the Flames can find their form in time to make the playoffs.

"We realize we've all got to dig in and get this thing turned around. The feeling is urgent but we're in a position it's still in our control," Iginla said. "Yeah, there's pressure, we're fighting for a playoff spot, we realize how good Colorado's playing and we need to be playing better.

"This time of year, the game will be tight but from our point of view, we believe we can get this thing going again and get winning ... We've had some great streaks this year and it's time to get back on one."


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