CALGARY ó Itís now or never for the Calgary Flames, and a lot of people around the NHL are betting on never.
But 15 years into his stay in Cowtown, with their window to win a championship cracked and closing fast, Jarome Iginla keeps hope alive.
ďLast year was disappointing for sure,Ē the longtime captain said of last seasonís 10th place finish in the West. ďI think weíre going to be a better team this year. I really believe that, I think all the guys in the room believe that. We believe in each other here.Ē
With a past that doesnít look so hot (just one trip past the first round in the last 21 years) and a future that doesnít seem all that bright (they didnít have a pick until the third round in last yearís draft and donít have a second- or third-round pick in the next one) Calgary has no choice but invest heavily in the here and now.
ďRight now sounds good,Ē grinned Iginla, who becomes an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2013. ďIn the off-season there was definitely a lot of talk. Was the organization going to rebuild? Was it going to keep trying to win now? I want to win now. Iím happy that they went that route and I think we can. I think we have a better team than weíve had here for a while.Ē
They need to hurry, though. The Flames dressed a lineup Tuesday in which the average age was just under 30, and that was without injured greybeards Daymond Langkow and Ales Kotalik to push the average even higher. Itís not cardigan and slipper time in the dressing room just yet, but it seems like a team every bit as close being blown up as it does to winning a title.
For Iginla, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and two-time Memorial Cup champion, a Stanley Cup means everything.
ďI donít know if I think about it in terms of a legacy or anything like that, I just want to win,Ē said the 33-year-old. ďI just want to win and experience that and be a part of it. I think it would be an amazing, awesome experience to win in Canada, to win in Calgary.
ďIíve played here a long time and Iím having as much fun as I ever had playing, but it is about winning. I just want to experience it. Iíve been very blessed to be part of different championships over my career, but not a Stanley Cup. But I do think itís possible. I know thereís a lot of time left in the season, but I think we have a good team. I think itís possible.Ē