CALGARY — A few months ago, Jarome Iginla’s status as the toast of the town was undisputed.
St. Jarome, captain of the Calgary Flames.
On the heels of Monday night’s 9-1 loss at the hands of the San Jose Sharks, the team’s five-game losing skid and Iginla’s struggles over the past few weeks, the pedastal is crumbling.
An owly fan base has tired of it, and are starting to question Iginla’s desire and leadership.
Iginla knows it comes with the territory in a hockey-mad city, but insisted his attributes haven’t wavered.
“My desire is there,” he stated. “I want to get better and want to be good for this team and I want to win. It’s there. Unfortunately, the results haven’t.”
And his leadership?
“That’s what happens when you don’t win. I understand when you’re on a losing streak it’s part of what goes with it,” he said. “I think we’ve got a good team and have to turn this around. The only thing that can answer those questions is to turn it around as a team.
“We have to prove it on the ice.”
After a game like the one in San Jose and the struggles now dating back six weeks, all of the Flames players are under the gun.
That’s especially the case for the core group, the veterans on long-term, big buck contracts. Iginla becomes the lightning rod for the group that includes Robyn Regehr, Daymond Langkow, Miikka Kiprusoff and Dion Phaneuf.
The way he’s performed of late, though, Iginla is deservedly in the cross hairs.
He has collected one goal in 13 games — none in the last nine — and one point in eight games.
He’s been held without a point in 22 games this season, with 11 of those coming in the last 15 outings.
In short, Iginla needs to start performing up to standard, and not shirk his responsibilities.
After all, Monday’s loss was a case of a team not up to snuff in any area, and the captain has to take blame when that happens.
“Absolutely. Preparation is a big part of that, and we weren’t prepared at all. It showed on the ice, from the start of the game. That’s a game we look forward to, and it was terrible.
“I take responsibility.”
Then again, so does the whole team, especially after such a beatdown.
Not only were the Flames horrible out of the gates in San Jose, they were thoroughly outplayed from start to finish.
“It was a terrible game, all the way around, to a man,” Iginla said. “It was a very embarrassing game to be a part of and makes you see things for where they’re at.
“I know it doesn’t look good today and you can understand why some people are down, but we’re not quitting and we’re going to find a way and get better.
“I truly believe we will find a way to turn this around and get back winning. Looking back, we’ll see it as a low point, close to rock bottom, and it’s time to move up again.
“I’ve been in tough spots before and we’ve been in tough spots as a team before, and we’ve gotten better and risen. I believe we’ll do it again.”
Until that happens, the questions will continue.
In fact, a recent report in the New York Post said Iginla is unhappy with head coach Brent Sutter because of perceived “junior hockey-type” coaching tactics.
“I have no idea where they’d get that. Not even a smidgen of that is true,” Iginla insisted. “I have a good relationship with Brent and know he’s won at every level and been successful. I don’t see the ‘junior’ tactics. He’s just as professional as any coach I’ve had.
“There’s no truth to that at all.
“I haven’t even mentioned something like that to my wife or something. It’s not like something like that can sneak out. I don’t feel that way."