Here's what's wrong with Jarome: Nothing

ERIC FRANCIS, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:40 AM ET

Sometime Monday morning, when the Flames return for a Saddledome skate, a sea of scribes will punctuate practice by surrounding Jarome Iginla's stall.

While the real stories of the club's current road trip -- Miikka Kiprusoff and Mike Cammalleri -- will indeed be asked for cursory quotes, it's the Flames captain who'll draw an inordinate amount of attention.

Scoreless in his last six outings and the author of just two goals his last 18 outings, Iginla will be asked 14 different ways to account for his pause in production. Never mind the fact he has 14 points during his "slump" to remain amongst league scoring leaders -- everyone wants to know "what's wrong with Iggy?"

Given the character of the game's ultimate captain, No. 12 will undoubtedly answer by suggesting he'd like to be scoring more and is expecting more of himself as the team's leader.

However, the answer he should give is simple: Nothing.

There's nothing wrong with Jarome Iginla.

Fact is, every year of his career he's staged similar powwows in which local media types have wondered aloud what caused Iginla to go five or ten contests without finding the net. The important thing is he inevitably makes up for periodical shortfalls with scoring binges that remind us why he is the league's premier goal scorer over the last 10 years.

This year will be no different. While he's obviously well behind the 50-goal pace he set last year and in 2001, Iginla is scoring at a rate that will land him his eighth-straight 30-goal campaign.

He is also in line to finish amongst the league's best with 86 points, which is exactly what he has averaged the last three campaigns.

The difference between this year and years past is the cast of characters surrounding him. Given the extraordinary depth Darryl Sutter has finally managed to fill the Flames roster with, Iginla is no longer required to carry the team offensively as in years past.

Instead, he can use the attention he draws as one of the game's most complete players to distribute the puck more, allowing finishers like Mike Cammalleri to shine.

There are only so many goals to go around, and with the team on pace for one of the franchise's most successful regular seasons, why should anyone question how it's getting done. The bottom line is Iginla is still one the best leaders in all of sport, and whether he's contributing via a fight, a big hit, inspirational play, a goal or as one of the league's most underrated setup men, Iginla remains the driving force of the Flames offence.

It says here that despite a dropoff in goals, Iginla should garner consideration for the Hart Trophy he was robbed of in 2001. (It's Alex Ovechkin's to win, but being a finallist is realistic.)

He's still averaging close to four shots a game, and he's still creating plenty of scoring chances. He's just not finishing as often. Instead, his teammates are doing it for him -- a luxury he never had in the past.

He is still the most valuable skater and leader of a team that is 14 games above .500 and third in the tough Western Conference.

He's one of only a handful of shoo-ins for Team Canada in 2010 and he's still one of the most consistent and durable superstars in today's NHL.

Despite his physical style, Iginla has played every game this year. In 12 seasons, he has missed just 42 games, or an average of three contests per annum.

That's leadership.

That's grit.

That's Jarome Iginla.

There when you need him most.

Having set the highest of standards, it's understandable for people to notice when he isn't at his very best. However, there's little fault in the way he's playing now and there's nothing wrong with him.

At some point real soon, he'll remind us all of that, and we can forget we even had this little discussion.

ERIC.FRANCIS@SUNMEDIA.CA


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