SUN Hockey Pool

'C' you later, Iginla?

Flames captain Jarome Iginla. (AL CHAREST/QMI Agency file photo)

Flames captain Jarome Iginla. (AL CHAREST/QMI Agency file photo)

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:43 AM ET

CALGARY - This has become the annual rite of spring for the Calgary Flames.

They aren’t getting ready for the playoffs, so the question turns to the future.

The most important one is easy: Will the captain be back when next season begins?

Jarome Iginla doesn’t have that answer, but he isn’t the one making the decisions either.

Sure, the face of the Flames does have a no-trade agreement and could quash any deal presented to him, but if the organization wants him gone, he would probably go.

When asked Monday after practice whether he expects to be back in Calgary next fall, Iginla rambled nonsensically for a moment before stating he would like to be here.

But he was presented the question about holding the cards, and the soon-to-be 35-year-old declined to speak on those terms.

“It’s the same as the last couple of years,” Iginla said. “When I answer the hypothetical questions, it adds to the speculation.

“I would like to have another shot at it. There are good things going. There are some strong young defenceman. It’s going to be fun to watch (WHL callup Sven) Baertschi next year. They have made some good moves.

“Whatever the Flames choose to do … we’re not far from being there. We will be a competitive team next year, no matter what direction they choose to go in.

“I still believe this will be a good team next year. I understand they have to look at everything.

“We’re all up for review. We will all be judged about whether we are in the plans. We don’t take anything for granted. I want to be here, but it’s no different from any other year.”

This is the third straight season the Flames have missed the post-season, so if this sounds like a broken record, that’s because it is.

Although he’s in great shape, and still scored 32 goals in 80 games this season (leading the team for the 10th time in 11 years), the clock is ticking on Iginla’s time as an impact player.

There is no question he would love to deliver a Stanley Cup to Calgary, but that’s impossible when the team can’t find the gumption to get into the post-season dance.

What bothers Iginla is that two to three weeks ago, the Flames looked like there was a chance to make the post-season.

Coming off a five-game winning streak, the Flames tanked, going 1-4-4 over nine outings to officially get eliminated Saturday night against the Vancouver Canucks.

During that span, Iginla had just one goal, and it came in the final seconds of a loss to at home to the Colorado Avalanche.

So he blames himself.

“In the last nine, we gave Kipper about 11 goals,” Iginla said (actually it’s 14, but five came in the lone win).

“I know that’s part of my job to help provide offence and help the powerplay be better.

“Last year, how we got back into the race was having a good powerplay. This year, I didn’t come up.”

The biggest question heading into this off-season for the Flames is whether the team starts to rebuild — with the first logical step moving out Iginla — or tries to reload and make right where it went wrong this year.

Iginla would like another chance with this group, although there will definitely be numerous changes even if the core group stays around.

What burns Iginla most is that if the Flames had qualified for the playoffs, he would like his team’s chances as well as anyone in the Western Conference.

“You don’t get re-dos but you would love to re-do these last nine games,” Iginla said. “We were right there, and I truly believed we were going to make it.”


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