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Coach: Iginla to be ready for season opener

Flames captain Jarome Iginla during a stoppage in play at McMahon Stadium in Calgary, Alta., Feb....

Flames captain Jarome Iginla during a stoppage in play at McMahon Stadium in Calgary, Alta., Feb. 20, 2011. (LYLE ASPINALL/QMI Agency)

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:46 PM ET

CALGARY - Brent Sutter wouldn’t go as far as saying Jarome Iginla will unequivocally be 100% ready for the Calgary Flames season opener.

But Sutter came as close as possible Friday when the Flames captain skated for the second straight day after missing a dozen days due to a back problem.

Iginla didn’t participate in practice at Westside Recreation Centre, but he skated with Rene Bourque and Brett Carson — two guys who’ve also been on the shelf — before the rest of the squad hit the ice.

“I shouldn’t say for sure because there’s nothing for sure in life, but I think we’ll definitely have Bourque and Jarome,” Sutter said. “It’s a good chance, anyway, for the start of the regular season.”

On a day the Flames pared their roster further by sending forwards Lance Bouma and Paul Byron to the AHL’s Abbotsford Heat and put forward Guillaume Desbiens on waivers with the intent to send him to the minors, the injury news also became a little better.

Iginla, whose back problems started during the first on-ice session Sept. 17, reported no problems from his first time back on the ice Thursday.

Re-aggravating an injury is a big fear when a player hits the ice for his first session following an injury.

“He feels good,” Sutter reported. “Every day, we’ll get closer and closer to when he’ll be able to have a full practice with the squad. He’ll let us know when that can happen, but I think we’re getting very close to that.”

Iginla and Bourque, whose injury hasn’t been divulged, are the Flames top-two right wingers, so it’s critical they’re back in action as soon as possible, which Sutter said will happen “unless something unforeseen comes along.”

“I think they’re both doing really well,” Sutter said. “It’s their bodies, and they’ll be honest with us and tell us. But from communicating with them the last couple of days, they’re both doing well.”

Carson has also been battling a back problem and is making progress. He’s not expected to be ready for the season-opener, but the injury doesn’t appear to be long-term.

“Every day, he’s feeling better,” Sutter said of Carson. “It’s nothing really significant, but with all of them, it’s enough to hinder them on the ice a little bit.

“We’ll have more guys on the ice with us Sunday, if not Tuesday.”

As well, centre Brendan Morrison continues to progress from off-season knee surgery. Morrison practised with the team Friday while wearing a yellow caution jersey, as he’s done for a few days now.

“The next step is getting involved in some contact — I think that’s any day now,” Morrison said. “We’ll talk to the doctors and get clearance, but I feel like I’m ready for it. You’ve got to take that step at some point, and I’m getting to that six-month time.”

Morrison suffered a groin strain last week, but with that behind him, he hopes to be ready for the Oct. 8 season-opener against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

“That’s my goal. I’m still shooting for that. We’ll see. I have to prove leading up to the 8th I can play.”

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter: @SUNRandySportak


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