April 10, 2012
Winning in Calgary Iginla's dream
By STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency
CALGARY - Despite his third straight year without a taste of playoff hockey, Jarome Iginla’s goal hasn’t changed.
He wants to win.
But he wants to do it here.
Although he said following the Flames’ final game of the season he wasn’t interested in being part of a full rebuild, his ultimate goal remains winning a Stanley Cup with the only NHL franchise he’s ever played for.
“That’s probably my ideal situation,” the Flames captain said after clearing out his locker Monday at the Saddledome.
“I believed in it this year. I don’t believe the teams that did make it are a lot better than we are. I may be wrong, but that’s not what I believe.
“I don’t want to put any pressure on (the organization) or anything. The ideal situation, that would be it.”
The ultimate question is whether or not that’s going to be possible.
By remaining loyal to the Flames franchise, would Iginla only be delaying the inevitable?
In turn, by remaining faithful to Iginla, is the franchise risking losing him for nothing in the end anyway?
Is the soon-to-be 35-year-old the next Mats Sundin, destined to play out the final year of his contract next season in an attempt to do something special with the team to which he’s so attached, only to depart anyway as a free agent and sign with a team that has a legitimate shot at a championship?
Right now, ownership and management hold all the cards.
If they decide to rebuild rather than reload, Iginla’s time in Calgary will come to an end.
The franchise’s all-time leading scorer will — by virtue of his no-movement clause — have some control of where he ends up, but won’t put a stop to the club’s plans if that is the direction they want to go.
“I don’t know what direction everything is going. If the team does choose go into a rebuild and goes really young, that’s not for me,” Iginla reaffirmed Monday. “On the other side, I think we can still be a good team.”
Inking a long-term extension sometime before next season’s trade deadline and taking a pay cut from his current US$7-million to allow the Flames more flexibility under the salary cap would go a long way toward making his feelings the team can be competitive more factual.
Unwilling to guess about what direction the team may choose to take — “It’s just guessing. I get in trouble when I do that,” he said — Iginla does admit he’ll be looking at his own future even more closely than usual because of the circumstances.
“Each year that goes by, you reflect more. Our careers are all getting shorter,” said Iginla, who already sounds pretty clear on what he wants.
“I want to be on a good team. Absolutely. But I feel we were a good team that didn’t make it. That’s the opportunity I would like. I’ve been going into each year believing that.
“I don’t know what the off-season brings. I know each year the decisions get harder with players when you’ve been out for three years.”
In the meantime, Iginla will do his usual off-season regimen, training relentlessly to be in the best shape he can be — his eyes on coming out on top of the fall fitness testing and ready for another 30-goal season.
Until anything changes, everything else will be background noise.
“I have another year left,” he said of his current contract situation.
“Unless somebody tells me different, I will be working hard preparing to come back and have a bounce-back year for the team.”
On Twitter: @SUNMacfarlane