With honours

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 12:37 PM ET


 In true team spirit, the Calgary Flames insist the Stanley Cup is the only award that really matters this time of year.

 And while the team is just starting the second step in the long journey toward hockey's ultimate goal, three members of the club received an early bonus yesterday with individual award nominations.

 Right-winger Jarome Iginla is one of three nominees for the Hart Trophy, awarded annually to the player most valuable to his team, along with New Jersey goalie Martin Brodeur and Tampa Bay sniper Martin St. Louis.

 Miikka Kiprusoff is a candidate for the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's best goalie, competing with Brodeur and Florida's Roberto Luongo, while head coach Darryl Sutter is in the running for the Jack Adams Trophy for outstanding coach along with John Tortorella of the Lightning and Ron Wilson in San Jose.

 "They're very deserving," nodded Iginla, the Flames captain, about Kiprusoff and Sutter.

 "They're an enormous reason for us being where we are and it's great to see them get recognized for it.

 "You look at what Kipper's done for us all year and even more in the playoffs and since Darryl's been here, as far as behind the bench having some of the moves he's made during the season ... they're very deserving and it's great to see them get recognized."

 As for Iginla, although he won the Lester B. Pearson as the NHLPA's most valuable player in 2002, the Hart would cap a great season, in which his 41 goals earned a share of the Maurice Richard Trophy as the league's leading scorer.

 "It's a huge honour," agreed Iginla, runner-up to Montreal goalie Jose Theodore for the same award two seasons ago.

 "It's been a really enjoyable season from being in the playoffs, to the way everything's gone, to everybody in the room. It's been really enjoyable. You hear all the time how it's the icing on the cake but it really is, it's a huge honour."

 Sutter, in his first full year as head coach in Calgary, shrugged off the accolades, noting the entire team shares any recognition he might receive.

 "That award, to be nominated, those are team awards, those are staff awards," noted Sutter, whose Flames earned a playoff berth for the first time since 1996.

 "I don't think it's an individual award, to be quite honest.

 "It's great any time players from your own team are nominated for any kind of season award. It's great for your organization, it's a reflection on everybody in the locker-room.

 "They've both had a great regular season and that's a reflection on the group that's with them or in front of them."

 Kiprusoff, shipped to Calgary from San Jose in November for a conditional draft choice, has played beyond expectations after starting the season watching the Sharks from the press box.

 "I didn't think about the Vezina when I got traded but it's been a great year so far and it's been fun," smiled Kiprusoff, who posted a league-record 1.69 GAA this season.


Photos