SUN Hockey Pool

Iggy talk clause for concern

STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:02 PM ET

Mats Sundin screwed the Toronto Maple Leafs.

If, or when, the time ever comes for Jarome Iginla to make a decision regarding the franchise he loves, we’ll find out where his loyalty lies.

If ownership, via the GM, ever asks the Calgary Flames captain to waive his no-movement clause to help the club potentially find the next Iginla-like prospect, doing the right thing might come easier to the local nice guy than it did Sundin.

Leaving the Leafs after his contract expired later that year rather than when they asked him to go elsewhere at the

2008 trade deadline to help them rebuild, Sundin chose to cling to his no-deal clause and stick around. Convenient.

For him and his family, maybe. But he could have helped out the club he considered family and still returned as a free agent the next year.

He joined the Vancouver Canucks instead and became the rental player he swore he never wanted to become.

For every Steve Yzerman or Joe Sakic, there are dozens more longtime NHL stars who were traded in an effort to improve.

Talk used to centre around the idea Iginla would be a Flame for life. That was before the team missed the playoffs for the first time in six seasons.

Forced to look deep into the system, people are realizing the cupboards are pretty bare when it comes to prospects.

Turning 33 this summer, Iginla doesn’t have more than a few years of productivity left. At best.

And it doesn’t matter that he’s one, of if not the most fit, athlete in that locker-room every fall — age eventually becomes a factor in performance.

At some point, owners of the Flames will have to at least consider the notion Iginla leaving will help the team more than him staying.

Not now. Not if the brass truly believes it can return to the playoffs next season and take a crack at the Stanley Cup.

But the day isn’t so far off that you can’t look toward it and ultimately accept it.

Just look at the way Iginla arrived in Calgary in the first place.

Dealing Joe Nieuwendyk, who was a few years younger at the time than Iginla is now, caused people across the city to cringe.

Months after Iginla was drafted by the Dallas Stars as a prospect from the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers he was on the way to Calgary. Headlines screamed outrage.

Iginla, whatever an Iginla is, could never fill Nieuwendyk’s skates.

Turns out he was a pretty good pickup. Iginla’s name is at the top of nearly every offensive record for the franchise.

Everybody knows what an Iginla is now.

The trade may forever be known as the best the Flames ever made despite the fact Nieuwendyk went on to win two more Cups, with the Stars in 1999 and New Jersey Devils in 2003.

Iginla has never won a Cup.

His best opportunity may lie elsewhere, as well.

For the Flames, their best chance may come from a rebuild. And in the salary-cap era, getting value in any trade has become as important as the draft itself. There will come a time a serious decision has to be made.

A time when everyone inside the organization will believe Iginla is no longer worthy of the $7-million a

season contract.

That day hasn’t arrived, but for the first time in this city, people are in agreement that it could.


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