What if both sides of the latest financial squabble are too pig-headed to figure out a fair way to split a pie which was worth US$3.3 billion this past season?
What would that mean to the Calgary Flames?
Well, it could mean we’ve seen the end of the
face of the franchise in Flames colours.
And wouldn’t that be a sad way for it to happen.
For all we know, Jarome Iginla — who’s been the centrepiece of the Flames for over a decade and owns franchise records for goals and points — has talked to the organization about announcing an extension as soon as the latest labour dispute has been solved.
Both sides could begin official negotiations on Canada Day, Iginla’s 35th birthday, but there’s been no whispers of that having happened. GM Jay Feaster understandably keeps those things close to the vest.
However, seeing as so many contracts around the league have been announced in recent days — which is bad optics when the league is saying the now-expired system doesn’t work, but that’s another discussion — you’d think the Flames and Iginla would love to announce good news.
Therefore, we are into another great unknown in the franchise’s future.
Iginla, who has been the subject of too many absurd trade rumours in the past couple years despite the organization’s insistence he wasn’t going to be dealt, is poised to become an unrestricted free agent after the 2012-13 season, whether it happens or not.
At that point, he would be free to sign with any other team, and seeing as there were clubs lining up for Shane Doan’s services, you bet the chase would be on for Iginla.
First instinct says Iginla wouldn’t want to leave Calgary. Although he’s admitted if the club wanted him to accept a trade, he’d respect those wishes and waive his no-movement clause, Iginla has — at least to the best of our knowledge — never asked to be moved.
It would be impossible to count how many times he’s spoken about wanting to remain in the Stampede City and believed this organization was on the right path to competing for the Stanley Cup. He’s signed a couple of contracts even when the opportunity to move along was staring him in the face.
But, if there’s no 2012-13 season and the Flames must go further into rebuild mode, it wouldn’t be a shocker for Iginla to decide the time has come to move on.
(By the way, goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff has two years remaining on his contract and the 2013-14 season worth $1.5 million, leading to speculation he may not bother to play that year. If there’s a lost season and both don’t return, wouldn’t that mean a huge changing of the guard?)
Sure, hockey fans everywhere have the right to say “to hell with you” towards both sides of this labour dispute. It’s a disgrace the NHL and its players are both being so greedy.
However, Flames fans, even if they’re angry, must want Iginla’s final game for the team to not be the meaningless 2011-12 season finale.
It wouldn’t be the right thing.