Babcock has high praise for Iggy

WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:22 PM ET

After a couple of questions about the embattled Calgary Flames captain, Mike Babcock asked a handful of local media-types just how many goals Jarome Iginla netted last season.

Nobody knows the exact number.

For Babcock, it's an assist that seems to stand out.

"To me, (Iginla) is a phenomenal player," Babcock said. "I don't know if you saw that little play he made to Crosby when he shot it in the net. Not a bad play, I think."

Thanks to Iginla's nifty assist and Crosby's golden goal, Babcock's coaching resume now includes a Stanley Cup title and an Olympic triumph.

The Detroit Red Wings skipper was the keynote speaker at Friday's Edge Legacy Dinner, an annual fundraiser for the state-of-the-art Edge School.

Babcock, who started his coaching career just up the road at Red Deer College, is carving out quite the legacy of his own. The 47-year-old bench boss has made three trips to the Stanley Cup finals, hoisting the hardware in 2008. He's also guided Canada to gold at the world junior tournament (1997), the world championships (2004) and, of course, the 2010 Vancouver Games.

Although he was thrilled to be able to celebrate a gold medal at Hockey Canada Place in February, Babcock characterized his NHL season as "not good enough," the result of the Red Wings' second-round exit after back-to-back trips to the Stanley Cup final.

For hockey fans in Calgary, the news was much worse.

Despite their billing as a pre-season favourite in the Northwest Division, the Flames, uh, flamed out of the playoff picture, posting a 40-32-10 record and missing the post-season for the first time since 2003.

Some cried for firings in the front office. Others opined it was time to trade Iginla, who scored 32 goals and added 37 assists but struggled to light the lamp as the Flames fought for their playoff lives after the Olympic tournament.

The club has since insisted the smiling sharpshooter is not on the trading block, which makes sense to Babcock.

"This is what Jarome is -- Jarome is a great man," Babcock said. "He's a passionate player. He's a great leader. He does the right thing everyday. He wants to be successful ...

"What I like about Jarome is when you talk to him, he looks you in the eye. He's a man's man in that he's going back into that room and delivering whatever the coach wants. He's a team guy. He's putting it on the line each and every night, and he loves being a Flame and he's embraced the people of Calgary.

"What's better than that? We'll take him."


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