SUN Hockey Pool

Weight over for Flames

Jarome Iginla was his usual self yesterday talking about the upcoming season. (Sun File/Stuart...

Jarome Iginla was his usual self yesterday talking about the upcoming season. (Sun File/Stuart Dryden)

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:12 PM ET

The big end-of-summer story last year at this time was Jarome Iginla's figure.

The captain shed nearly 10 pounds after adjusting his off-season training regimen and was noticeably trim when he showed up for the annual Calgary Flames Celebrity Golf Classic a year ago.

It was only natural for the trio of reporters to jokingly inquire about his current state of fitness yesterday before he hit the links at Country Hills Golf Course along with many of his veteran teammates, due on the ice next week, and rookie prospects, who report for fitness testing today.

"These are personal questions guys," said Iginla with a laugh. "I thought it's only if someone offers those up. You're not supposed to ask about a person's weight.

"As far as training and stuff over the summer, I did a lot of the same things. I felt really good last year going into the season, in training camp. I feel really good this time again."

The fundraising tourney normally reserved for the day before the team's main training camp opens was moved up to include the rookies and, following Tuesday's unveiling of the new jerseys, officially kicks off the excitement of a new season while bringing to the surface questions that have been on hold for months.

One was about the new sweaters possibly helping turn around last year's horrible road record, lobbed Tuesday by a broadcast journalist at both Dion Phaneuf and Matthew Lombardi. While the question may have been asked at the wrong event, no one avoided the topic yesterday.

In fact, both Iginla and Alex Tanguay brought it up on their own while answering a broader question: Is this year's version of the Flames better than the one that fell short against the Detroit Red Wings in the opening round of the 2006-07 playoffs?

Aging forwards Tony Amonte, Jeff Friesen and Darren McCarty were let go. Blueliners Roman Hamrlik and Brad Stuart chose new zip codes through free agency, and Andrei Zyuzin was shipped to Chicago, while gritty veterans Adrian Aucoin, Cory Sarich and Anders Eriksson were brought in to anchor the back end. GM Darryl Sutter grabbed old favourite Owen Nolan to mix with his top six forwards and locked up key members of his core during a busy summer.

"I think Darryl added a little bit of grit, with Sarich and Aucoin and Owen. Darryl wanted a team that plays under his style, and I think we're very happy with the additions," said Tanguay, who was one of three current Flames to get married this summer along with Lombardi and Robyn Regehr.

"We didn't need anything much. We've got one of the best goalies in the world. We've got a very solid and capable defence. Our offence scored a lot of goals."

Iginla shared his left-winger's positive outlook on the upcoming season.

"I believe we'll be a better team," Iginla said. "I think the biggest reason why we'll be a better team is we're another year older. As a core, we're a pretty young group. As much as we didn't like it as far as playoffs and not winning on the road, there's some things that we learned and are going to have to show we learned. "

Iginla likes the big-bodied defence.

And he can't say enough about the leadership brought in, which includes new coach Mike Keenan.

"It's exciting every year at this time," Iginla said. "But I just seem to get more and more excited every year."


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