Iginla makes no apologies for aggressive play

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI

, Last Updated: 8:32 AM ET

CALGARY -- The Flames love that Jarome Iginla is a superstar who can fight his own battles, they just don't want him fighting his own battles.

After the fiery Flames captain fought twice in Calgary's first three games of the season, they were holding their breath going into last night's showdown with the Edmonton Oilers.

They'd rather see their captain connect on the scoreboard than the 10-point must system.

"My opinion, personally, is that I'd rather not see him fight," said Flames teammate Craig Conroy. "I guess if it's against a (Vincent) Lecavalier or somebody like that, OK, but you can't trade your best player for a guy who's going to play 12 or 14 minutes. I think Jarome has to pick his spots.

"It's hard to talk to him about it because he's an emotional guy; he does what he wants to do out there. We have a lot of guys who can fight on this team."

COULD GET SERIOUS

It's not just losing him for five minutes that worries them, it's the prospect of losing him for a few months. As the Oilers are well aware, having lost Ethan Moreau and Sheldon Souray to long-term injuries sustained in fights, it doesn't take much for a harmless scrap to take a very serious toll.

"I think it's part of the game," said Souray. "There's not many Jarome Iginlas out there, but for a lot of players it's part of their game to create room for themselves. It'll always be part of my game and I'm fine with it."

Same with Iginla, but he says he will try to turn the other cheek more often.

Kind of.

"I undertsand that some people play more ice time than others,"he said of trading himself off with the likes of Colorado plugger Cody McCormick. "But I don't think I'd feel comfortable if I went in there (hard areas of the ice) trying to avoid (a fight). I understand there's being smart, but sometimes anger gets the best of you, it's part of hockey.

PART OF GAME

"It's part of what I grew up thinking a power forward was. It's not that you're looking to fight, it's that you're trying to play hard and you're trying to play physical and sometimes when you go and try to hit people, they're not happy. And sometimes when people take runs at you or slash you, you're not happy.

"It's just part of it. You don't want to be where people think they can take shots at you and you're not going to respond."

Edmonton's top skill guy, Ales Hemsky, isn't about to drop the mitts, but plenty of liberties have been taken with him over the last couple of years. So the Oilers brought in Steve MacIntyre to calm things down.

"Our prefrence is that the officals deal with it right away," said head coach Craig MacTavish. "But it has developed into a trend where when we play Calgary that they get away with some pretty questionable hits and pretty questionable play at times.

"Our preference is to let the officials deal with it, but we are better equipped to fight that type of battle if we need to."


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