SUN Hockey Pool

Scoring drought weighs heavily on Iggy

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:36 PM ET

CALGARY — Despite his team being stuck in ninth place and struggling to score, Jarome Iginla insists he’s still happy in Calgary.

Hours before the latest biggest game of the season, the media gathered around the Calgary Flames captain wasn’t interested in talking about the San Jose Sharks.

There is speculation the Flames may trade the face of their franchise this off-season, but the captain would have to sign off on the deal because of a no-trade clause.

So the 32-year-old’s happiness is a major issue.

“It’s great on a family level,” Iginla said. “The family is happy here. It’s a great family city. We’ve been here a long time and we kinda grew up here. Absolutely on that level.

“The organization wants to win. It has been a tough year. I wish I was producing better and I wish we were in a better spot as a team right now. I still enjoy it. It’s part of the passion.

“As an athlete, you want to play where people care. The flip side of when it’s really good and everyone is into, but when it’s not good, they are still into it and they are upset.”

Before Tuesday’s outing against the Sharks, Iginla had gone eight games without a goal. Although he lit the lamp 30 times for the ninth straight season, his totals have dropped the past few campaigns from 50 in 2007-08 to 35 last season and now 32 (with three games left).

Iginla acknowledged during Tuesday’s morning skate his lack of offensive punch has contributed to the struggles this season, which were highlighted over the past few weeks.

“I’m not trying to live in the past either. The last games haven’t been very good,” Iginla said. “It’s not for lack of want or trying. I’m just in a rut and I will work to get out of it. Do I think my best times are behind me? No I don’t.

“I’ve been in tough droughts before, but this one is hard. We need it as a team and we’ve had a hard time scoring goals. When you lose, everyone feels it even more.”

Over the past decade, the Flames have done everything possible to make it comfortable for their star right-winger.

The most familiar comment from observers is that the Flames need to find someone for Iginla to play with.

But no combination of Iginla and Marc Savard, Alex Tanguay, Kristian Huselius, Olli Jokinen, Michael Cammalleri or Daymond Langkow has worked out for long.

The Flames have constantly changed faces on their top line and nothing has stuck.

When assessing the reason the Flames are fighting for the final playoff spot in the last week of the regular season, Iginla pointed to the first line as a major problem.

The time might have come to change the right-winger on that line instead of the supporting players.

Over the past few days, Iginla’s teammates have come out supporting their captain during his struggles.

But Iginla isn’t hiding from the criticism.

“It’s fair. It’s part of hockey and part of sports,” Iginla said. “We haven’t been good in the last bit and haven’t got results.

“When you are going good and winning, as the captain, you get an extra pat on the back. When you are scoring, you feel you are doing your job.

“This year has been tough. We haven’t been a high scoring team. I haven’t produced as much as I would have liked. From my side, I have to keep working and stay positive.”


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