SUN Hockey Pool

Iginla considering move?

Flames captain Jarome Iginla skates during the warmup before facing the Canucks at the Scotiabank...

Flames captain Jarome Iginla skates during the warmup before facing the Canucks at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alta., Nov. 1, 2011. (AL CHAREST/QMI Agency)

Eric Francis, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:27 PM ET

Jarome Iginla would never admit it, but he’s thinking about the possibility of life without the Calgary Flames.

So say several sources close to the longtime Flames captain who believe the 34-year-old winger is quietly struggling with the realization his dreams of winning a Stanley Cup will not play out in Calgary.

If he’s to complete the championship journey he fell one game short of in 2004, he will have to waive his no-trade clause or sign elsewhere two summers from now.

Until now, Iginla has publicly refused to believe what the hockey world has known for some time: The Flames’ downward trend is real. Publicly, he’s steadfastly insisted he wants to be part of the solution and win a Cup in Calgary.

Given the mess former GM Darryl Sutter left behind, that’s not going to happen anytime soon, and who could blame Iginla for trying to digest exactly what that means?

“He’s at a point in his career he has to decide what he wants,” one team source said.

“I think, at times, he plays like he wants out. I think it screws him up mentally.”

With his now broken-up line mired in a slump that had his trio accounting for just two goals while going minus-19 in its last seven games, Iginla was essentially called out last week by his coach for failing to buy into the team concept and play a larger defensive role. Brent Sutter wouldn’t name Iginla specifically, but the ongoing battle between the two philosophically continues as Iginla continues to insist that he’s needed most offensively.

He is, but with just six goals, things aren’t working.

“He’s never actually come out and said he’s thinking about (waiving his no-trade clause or asking for a trade) — he’s not going to because he’ll look like he bad guy,” another source said.

And therein lies the rub.

Iginla doesn’t want to do anything to tarnish his iconic name in town and would somehow like to preserve his good standing with fans even if he does eventually leave. The organization is extremely sensitive to public sentiment and doesn’t want to upset people by asking him to lift his no-trade clause.

Truth is, no one would blame or fault Iginla for wanting to move on. Flames president Ken King and GM Jay Feaster said Saturday they believe Iginla is “part of the solution.”

King was so adamant the club won’t trade its most popular player, he essentially balked at commenting on a rumour Iginla submitted a list of three teams he’d go to.

“There aren’t three teams, 29 teams, five teams … I can say that without hesitation,” said King, echoing Iginla’s agent, Don Meehan, who said he’s had no such dealings with the Flames. “I’m not going to participate in a story where one doesn’t exist. Any discussions he’s had with us are about positive ways we can enhance our success. We are not dignifying a baseless story someone dreamed up could be a scenario.”

With one more year left on his contract, it’s only natural Iginla starts to wonder what life might be like in another uniform. He has to consider his options, and if he’s not going to re-enter negotiations to extend his stay in Calgary past 2013, it’s only prudent he’d imagine possible destinations.

That said, the only way you even consider trading Iginla at any point is if the payoff is significant. You don’t trade the best and most popular player in franchise history for anything less than a major premium.

If Dustin Penner can net the Oilers a solid prospect, a first-rounder and a conditional pick, the asking price for Iginla would be considerably higher. Only a handful of teams would be able to cough up such riches, and only a few of those more could afford it under the cap structure. His slow start wouldn’t scare any contenders, as his character and talent is immense.

That’s precisely why the Flames can’t fathom letting him go. He is the face of the franchise. And while that face is sagging, speculation on his future will continue. Iginla controls his fate, and that has to have his mind racing at times.

eric.francis@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter: @ericfrancis

Eric Francis appears regularly as a panellist on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada


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