SUN Hockey Pool

Back spasms cut Iginla's day short

STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:33 AM ET

CALGARY - First his brain let him down, then his back.

It was a tough start to training camp for Calgary Flames captain Jarome Iginla Saturday.

His late-morning session came to an early end on the ice after about 20 minutes when his back started acting up.

“I just had a little bit of a spasm there,” Iginla said after going through the pre-season photo shoots that followed practice. “I’ve had them during the season and stuff over the years. Unfortunately, it happened today, first day — I was looking forward to it.”

He could practice Sunday if he feels better, but you can bet the team won’t be taking any chances with their star player considering the season activities have barely begun.

“I thought it was better to be safe,” said Iginla. “Take care of it, and hopefully, it’ll settle down and be good tomorrow.”

He’ll might hear a couple of ‘old-man’ jokes from teammates, but maybe even more embarrassing is the way his practice started.

In what provided one of the most entertaining bits of the day, Iginla needed 18-year-old rookie Sven Baertschi to point him in the right direction.

“Being out there in the first drill, I was the first guy out there and Jarome was right behind me, and he actually asked me what he has to do on the drill,” said Baertschi, who was loving the experience of his first day of main camp with some of the league’s top players.

“It was fun. I had a couple of good conversations with those guys. It’s really something special to be out there with those guys.”

The Swiss prospect also said he had a lot to learn from the veterans. Apparently, he taught Iginla something in their first day together.

“I didn’t know it. The coaches just showed us the drill,” Baertschi said. “I didn’t actually know what we were doing out there, and (Iginla) was right behind me. It was a lot of passing — two guys go and one guy goes and then three guys again.

“I was lucky I did it the right way. It was pretty funny.”

In good spirits despite the start to his training camp, Iginla had to laugh, too.

“It is true,” he said, confirming Baertschi’s story. “I was trying to watch. I don’t know where my mind went. I definitely was a little rusty there following drills. I definitely had no clue.

“If he didn’t help me out, it would have been a re-do.”

Even in his brief skate with Group B, Iginla made an impression on some of the prospects. Among them was Ryan Howse, who’s looking to make the jump to pro from junior.

Howse didn’t get a chance to skate with the big boys last year because he was nursing an injury during camp before being sent back to the WHL’s Chilliwack Bruins.

“It’s something special,” said Howse, who took a moment to soak it all in when he first stepped on the ice. “They’re all great hockey players, and I grew up watching them. It’s a bit surreal right now being a part of this main camp.

“But I’ve got to enjoy it and embrace it and ultimately try to make the team and be their teammate.”


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