SUN Hockey Pool

Better days ahead for Flames

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:03 AM ET

Jarome Iginla says he wasn't one of the Calgary Flames' walking wounded.

But he understands why people might have thought that was the case this season.

Waiting without reward for their captain to take over a game in the playoffs, the fans had to wonder whether or not Iginla was hiding an injury that kept him from making a difference.

"No. No. To be honest, I was actually very healthy," said Iginla.

"I can see why you're asking that. I don't think it was a great year for me."

Scoring a respectable 34 goals and 89 points, Iginla and his fans are more concerned about the 32 games without a point during the regular-season, and the four blankings in six playoff appearances.

"Looking back, I wasn't as consistent as I would have liked to have been. Pressing at different times of the year," he said.

"I feel I can be better."

Joining Team Canada for the world championships in Switzerland isn't part of that plan to improve.

"I got an invite yesterday," said Iginla.

"With the three little ones I've got at home, now that we're out -- I've got an eight-month old, a two-year-old and a four-year-old -- I politely declined.

"I'm going to spend some time at home with them."

Watching the playoffs.

Wishing he was better so his team might still be in them.

"It's probably good to watch it and feel how much it stings being out and watching other teams play and what they're doing," said Iginla.

"I totally understand why fans aren't happy -- and ownership and management and coaching staff."

One aspect of his game Iginla brought up repeatedly was the powerplay.

A season-long issue was at its worst over the last 10 games of the regular-season and the problem carried over into the playoffs.

"I know I didn't produce in that area, and I'm on there a lot," said Iginla.

"We'll be working to make it a lot better and be a lot more attentive in making things happen there."

Practising it more would be a good start. Despite suggestions to the contrary during the season, head coach Mike Keenan didn't make it a regular part of his daily teachings.

"Looking back, probably (didn't practise it) as much as we should have," admitted Iginla.

"We did practise it down the stretch, and talked about it and went over it. Now we know we can to do more."

Some teams -- at least one of Keenan's past squads -- can rely on skill alone to get their powerplay going.

It obviously isn't so for the Flames.

Equally apparent is the fact Iginla can not rely on his skills alone. He needs to be aggressive to be the dominant player people had become accustomed to watching over the past few years.

Suggesting he'll use the summer to "recharge, refuel, and work at" his game, Iginla knows his opportunity to win a Stanley Cup narrows every passing season.

He doesn't believe he's showing signs of aging in a sport that sees its fair share of players sticking around toward their 40s.

"I'll be 32 next year. I still feel I've got my best years ahead of me and will have my best year," said Iginla.

"I know I need to rebound and respond.

"There's some of us that aren't happy with what we contributed individually to the team."


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