SUN Hockey Pool

Emotions high at Flames practice

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:47 PM ET

It shouldn’t come as a shock there was a heated discussion on the ice during Saturday’s Flames practice.

Emotions are high throughout the team after being spanked by the Edmonton Oilers 4-0 in Thursday’s season opener.

The concern is that captain Jarome Iginla was in disagreement with assistant coach Dave Lowry during a powerplay drill.

Naturally, everybody downplayed it following the session.

“Pie (Lowry) and I have a very good relationship, we played together and he was captain here,” Iginla said. “There’s no hard feelings. Communication is very important and trying to understand where he wants me to go.

“It was just communicating. It’s not personal, by any means. It’s intense because we’re trying to get this righted right away, and we know how important the powerplay is.”

Head coach Brent Sutter was stunned about it even being perceived as a controversy.

“Geez. C’mon. You serious?” he said when the subject was broached. “Hockey’s a competitive environment, and sometimes, voices are going to be louder than others. It’s not like you’re at home sitting around the dinner table.

“You guys, I’m not saying everyone, but as soon as there’s a voice up on the ice, you think there’s controversy. There’s absolutely no controversy. It’s all part of the process. That’s the way it works. It’s like that everywhere and it’s the way it is, so get used to it.

“If you’re not (used to it) already, I’m quite shocked, because you hear it daily.”

To see Iginla and a member of the coaching staff in a heated debate is a rarity.

It couldn’t even be called an argument and certainly was nothing like the yelling match between the captain and former assistant coach Rich Preston a few years ago during a Flames-Sharks playoff series.

However, it’s the perception created, that the captain and the coaches aren’t on the same page, which Iginla and Sutter had to repeatedly dispel last season.

For starters, it appeared to be over where Iginla was positioned on the powerplay, as the team readied for Sunday night’s home opener.

The coaches want Iginla to be moving to different depths of the slot at various times. In part to give himself more space by forcing a checker to follow him deeper in the zone before scooting into the high slot for the chance to take a shot.

A byproduct of Iginla being closer to the net with a checker close by is it opens a passing lane for a defenceman, who can then pinch from the point for a golden scoring chance.

What possible issue could there be is anybody’s guess. However, a growing concern is that Iginla must do a better job of sacrificing personal achievements and success for the greater good of the team.

In his defence, Iginla spent years being told the Flames had no chance of scoring if he wasn’t the one doing it. The notion of “if Iggy doesn’t score, the Flames don’t win” wasn’t killed last season when he struggled down the stretch with one goal in the final 16 games while the team fell out of the playoff picture.

And for years, Iginla has done all he could in that quest.

However, if the Flames believe they’re as deep offensively as they all keep saying, Iginla must surrender the responsibility of scoring every goal.

Which means sometimes being a decoy for the likes of Olli Jokinen, Alex Tanguay, Jay Bouwmeester and everybody else.

For some reason, Brent Sutter and his coaching staff had a tough time all through last season getting all the players to buy into what they wanted.

To have an issue on the eve of Game 2, and after missing the playoffs last season, pushes forth the notion things haven’t improved.


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