SUN Hockey Pool

Iginla questions his Flames future

Jarome Iginla reacts on the ice after beating the Anaheim Ducks 5-2 in their last NHL game of the...

Jarome Iginla reacts on the ice after beating the Anaheim Ducks 5-2 in their last NHL game of the season at the Scotiabank Saddledome. Saturday April 7 2012. (QMI Agency/Darren Makowichuck)

STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:54 AM ET

Their season has come to a close.

Jarome Iginla's tenure with the Calgary Flames might have as well.

When asked about his future following a third-straight season without a sniff of the playoffs, the team's captain was more unsure than ever whether or not he'd be donning the Flaming C on his chest next year.

In fact, for maybe the first time ever, he admitted he wasn't sure he'd want to be.

"I really don't know what next year holds. I don't know the direction (of the team). Do I wanna rebuild? Do I wanna be on a team if we fully rebuild? I don't know that I do," Iginla said honestly during a post-game scrum following a 5-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks in Game 82.

"I don't know what the situation will be. But do I want to fully rebuild? I'd be lying to you if I said that I do. At the same time, the organization has to do what they want to do."

Translation (or at least my own interpretation of it): If the team doesn't think they have a chance to win it all, Iginla would like a chance to win a Stanley Cup somewhere they do.

His words give ownership and management an opening they've never really had before.

Iginla has made the first move in what was destined to be a public relations nightmare had the team gone to him first and asked him to consider waiving his no-movement clause if they decided he wasn't part of their future plans.

He loves Calgary and has always said he wants to win here.

But if that's not a possibility, if the team decides to look at a more long-term plan to rebuild, the soon-to-be 35-year-old's words Saturday spoke to his interests of making another Cup run before time runs out.

"It's hard. It gets harder every year," he said when asked if it gets tougher to answer questions about his future with the Flames following every season.

But the answer morphed into the difficulty of missing the playoffs for a third straight season and the knowledge his opportunity to win grows shorter with each passing year.

"No matter how long we play, we're always one less year of our career," Iginla continued. "It's something that, it is tough not being in (the playoffs). You want it more than ever, it just builds when you're watching other teams compete for the Stanley Cup. It's not easy."

Interviews between the coaches and players, managers and players, and in Iginla's case, potentially the ownership and players will take place over the coming days and weeks.

Based on Iginla's previously stoic stance that he wants to both win a Stanley Cup and win it in Calgary, you could guess he'll lobby for a makeover that includes him in the picture.

"I think Calgary's a very good organization. I think they treat us all well as players," Iginla said, adding he believes there are positive signs for the future already. "I do think there's a lot of good things going -- I see some of the young guys here. It's been a big positive."

But if the team's brass doesn't view things the same way and wants to make wholesale changes after one miraculous run to the Stanley Cup final in 2004 bookended by seven seasons without playoff hockey on one side, and four first-round exits followed by three more post-season misses on the other, his time might be up in Calgary.

"They're gonna look at everything. It's gonna be a long off-season and probably gonna be a lot of debates and talk all the way around for us as players. I don't know what the future holds," Iginla said.

"I don't know how my feelings would be, or what they'll be (if he was asked to waive his clause). I understand there's a lot up in the air and a lot of questions. I don't know how I'd feel. I'm not gonna guess that. I do know that there will be a lot of questions, and we're all gonna be looked at. And that's part of it and we all should be, being (out of the playoffs) three years.

"They have to decide what direction they want to go. That's pretty much it."

If they decide to go in a direction that doesn't include him, at least he gets to decide where he lands.

steve.macfarlane@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter: @SUNMacfarlane


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