Iginla not slowing down

Jarome Iginla may be north of 30 years old now, but he's still playing like he's in his prime. AL...

Jarome Iginla may be north of 30 years old now, but he's still playing like he's in his prime. AL CHAREST, Calgary Sun

ERIC FRANCIS, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:16 PM ET

Shortly before puck drop Wednesday night, Jarome Iginla will be honoured for scoring his 1,000th point.

While such a ceremony generally acts as a capper to a great career, this wont be the last time the Calgary icon gets a Dome salute. In fact, its not inconceivable Iginla could continue to be one of the games most prolific scorers for another handful of years.

Its not a swan (song) where Ill skate around, beamed the 33-year-old Iginla of the tribute.

Id imagine it will be pretty short-lived as we have work to do.

Indeed, while Iginla and the Flames will in fact have to beat Edmonton if they have any chance of prolonging their playoff dreams, the captain is focused on prolonging a career many suggested four months ago was at a crossroads.

Flashback to a conversation at Predator Ridge golf course in Vernon, B.C. last summer where the fitness freak dug into lunch before an early afternoon tee time.

I read that athletes are playing longer and being successful longer and some of the things that drop off are because guys find other things to do, said Iginla.

They maybe dont train as much or they spend more time with kids. Kara (his wife) still gives me time every morning to work out because I want to be a high producer in my 30s. I dont feel much different than when I was younger.

Be it fame, fortune or the type of distractions that derailed Tiger Woods, athletes from every sport have long seen productivity wane soon after hitting age 30. Not Iginla.

And if ever there was an athlete capable of following the likes of Nick Lidstrom (40 ), Teemu Selanne (40) or Mark Recchi (43), its Iginla who has long pledged to play into his fourth decade.

Players are very fortunate to play at a time medicine and the knowledge around the game have improved a ton, said Iginla, armed with several theories as to why the modern athlete can be productive longer.

You can see around the league guys are being successful for longer. The rule changes have helped. Its not as hard on your body. When you used to skate up the ice and get pulled or hooked, there goes a groin.

Also, its not as much of a grind traveling as it was before teams started flying charters and some teams have sleep coaches. We all know how to take care of our bodies better.

Recently feted at the Dome after becoming just the 10th player to score 30 goals in 10 straight seasons, Iginlas durablity is such that he hasnt missed a single game in four years. In 14 seasons, hes missed just 42 outings despite a physical style that made him one of the games last true power forwards.

Body-wise, I feel good and I dont think that was an issue at any time this year, said Iginla when it was pointed out guys entering their 30s used to always be on the down-slope of their career.

When I was 21 and saw a guy who was 33, Id say my god hes had a good run. But I love seeing the older guys doing well because it makes you believe you can do it. Martin St. Louis is 35 and hes right at the top. Its not like the guys before didnt care but it wasnt part of the culture.

Alex Tanguay agreed, citing the success of former teammates Joe Sakic and Ray Bourque in the twilight of their careers.

The only thing is the day after games you probably feel a little bit tighter than usual, smiled Iginla, the main reason the Flames are still mathematically alive in the playoff hunt.

So, you just have to do a bit more stretching. But by game time you feel good.

Good enough to score another 1,000 points?

Okay, now that might be a bit more of a stretch than hes comfortable with.

eric.francis@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/ericfrancis

Eric Francis appears regularly as a panellist on CBCs Hockey Night in Canada


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