Iggy in the swing of things

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:46 AM ET

Streaks are nothing new to Jarome Iginla.

Usually they're in the goal-scoring department, not fights.

But with scraps in his last two contests and just three games into the season, the Calgary Flames captain couldn't avoid the questions.

So, Jarome, which Oiler are you going to fight?

Laughter ... a pause ... more laughter from Iginla.

"I don't know if you're joking or you're serious," he answers.

Mostly joking -- not many players plan to fight before a game, at least not the skilled ones -- but no one would be surprised if Iginla makes it three-in-three tonight against the hated neighbours to the north in the Flames' first regular-season clash against the Edmonton Oilers at the Saddledome.

"For the most part, I'm not trying to fight," said Iginla, who took on Vancouver Canucks defenceman Willie Mitchell and Colorado Avalanche tough guy Cody McCormick in the past two outings. "And I'm not trying to avoid them.

"I don't think I can play the same if I was going in there and trying to avoid scrums, or trying to avoid pushing people, or getting pushed and walking away.

"But I understand there is something said for being smart about it."

The Flames want Iginla on the ice as much as possible.

That's one of the reasons they brought enforcer Andre Roy in this summer after tough guy Eric Godard left for Pittsburgh as a free agent.

"He can lead by doing other stuff out there other than fighting," said Roy, who would be happy to be the guy to drop the gloves when necessary if only his captain would allow it. "I think Jarome's always led by example here. Everybody knows he can stick up for himself.

"We need him more on the ice than in the box fighting."

Iginla isn't picking fights. He's had a longtime feud with Mitchell, and the McCormick incident was a matter of pride.

"That was a hard one (to get away from)," said Iginla. "I didn't really expect (the sucker-punch). Kind of just pushing back and forth and then he popped me a pretty good one there. He pulled me in and gave me a shot. I fell, and looked at the ref. There was no penalty."

So, Iginla took matters into his own hands.

"You could hear the crowd go 'Ooooh.' At that point, it just happens."

Scoring a shorthanded goal and adding an assist after the McCormick fight to earn his eighth Gordie Howe hat-trick (a goal, assist and fight), Iginla continues to do it all despite knowing his fans and coaches are probably holding their breath every time he risks injury to send a message with his fists.

"You don't think of that, and I don't think I can," said Iginla. "Some of the best goal-scorers of all-time have had five times as many fights as I have -- look at (Brendan) Shanahan."

Let the record show Iginla has 35 regular-season scraps, another four in the playoffs, and three in the pre-season over 11 years.

Shanahan netted 75 in 18 seasons, so the averages are closer than Iginla thinks.

It's just the style of game he plays.

"I'm always going to be there in the scrums with the group as we should be, together," said Iginla. "

If they happen, they happen.

"I'm sure it's not going to be (10 fights in 10 games). If it's 10-in-10, then we can definitely have some more discussions, for sure."

So -- in the end -- he didn't rule out three-in-three.

Stay tuned tonight.


Videos

Photos