SUN Hockey Pool

Vibes all positive with fresh start

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:31 PM ET

The summer of discontent is over.

The long-awaited chance to wash away the disappointment of last season is finally at hand when the Calgary Flames visit the Edmonton Oilers Thursday to open the 2010-11 NHL season.

“Ready to go,” proclaimed defenceman Mark Giordano after the final tune-up at the Saddledome before departing north.

“It’s an exciting time. We’re positive in here and think a lot of guys are going to step up and have good years.”

It’s been almost six months since the lights dimmed on the disappointing 2009-10 season, a campaign which started with high hopes, but ended on the outside of the playoffs.

It’s hard to stomach going from considering yourself a Stanley Cup contender to not even making the post-season.

For some, that disappointment remains major motivation.

“Definitely, you want to remember those feelings of the day we didn’t make playoffs and the down times. You don’t want to go back there again,” Giordano said.

“After you’ve been through it, it makes you better. You know that feeling and try harder to push in the season.”

Others believe the best course of action over the next six months will be to turn the page.

“It’s gone,” said captain Jarome Iginla.

“It’s a new chapter. Every year is new. In the summer,

I try to look at things and what I can possibly change to get better, but I don’t go (thinking) about all this stuff to prove. I go into every year thinking we all have lots to prove. Personally, I want to be one of the top players. Team-wise, I want to be on one of the top teams and eventually be the top team.

“I learn from last year and look to be the best I’ve been yet this year.”

Not that Iginla doesn’t believe he and his teammates have to shoot for some form of redemption.

As a team, they fizzled. Individually, all kinds of players fell short of expectations.

For example, Iginla’s

32 goals was his lowest total in nearly a decade. He failed to light the lamp in the final

11 games and tallied just once in the final 16 outings, while the door closed on their playoff hopes.

“It’s sports. There’s always a storyline. Every one of us are driven. We love playing, want to compete,” he said.

“Look at (Mike) Modano, he still has his own story. He wants to show he can keep going. Young guys have to prove they’re not comfortable and can keep going.

“All of us, young guy or old guy, want to have a good year and have our motivation. It’s part of sports.”

According to the naysayers, the Flames are the same team, only older, and therefore won’t score enough goals.

Iginla says those doubters need to watch how they play.

The system tweaks by head coach Brent Sutter are about playing with more creativity, more speed and more offensive push.

“We’re moving more,” Iginla said.

“We’re not going from a stand still and I think that’s going to make us quicker throughout the year. I feel good but I think a lot of us will look quicker.”

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/RandySportak


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