With the season just around the corner, I thought I would run down the roster on the Flames one player at a time and prognosticate, if I may, about what lies ahead for each individual player. I would like to start this 22 part series by looking at the one, the only, Jarome Iginla.
The Captain. The team’s life blood. The franchise.
These are some of the words used to describe what Jarome Iginla means to the Calgary Flames. Coming off of a self-proclaimed ‘bad year’ though, many people in the city of Calgary have started to second guess if it would serve the Flames best interests to ship Iginla out of town when his value is still relatively high. Trading him before he gets too old and becomes useless has been one school of thought. I, on the other hand, totally disagree with that assessment and of course, if this were to happen, the city might literally go UP in flames; no pun intended. Ok, so it was a little intended.
"Personally, last year was an off year.” –#12
Off year? Fine, he didn’t produce at the level Flames fans have come to expect, but to totally write him off would be a mistake. Last season, he scored 32 goals and added 37
assists for 69 points; his lowest total since 05-06 when he had 35 goals and 32 assists.
Looking at Jarome’s consistency though, he has managed to score 30+ goals for 9 straight seasons, and 25+ for 11 straight. Since the dawning of the new millennium he has never had less than 67 points, and no one in the NHL has scored more goals than Jarome Iginla with 350. The $100 million dollar man Ilya Kovalchuk has 338.
Do we, as Flames fans, take Iginla for granted?
Hell yes we do!
The more impressive thing about Iggy is that he has done a lot of this on his own, figuratively speaking of course. Not one legitimate superstar has come to Calgary to feed him the puck. Mike Cammalleri was the closest thing this city has seen to a comparable star, and Flames management thought Olli Jokinen was a better fit. Don’t get me started.
I am a Jarome Iginla fan, if you hadn’t noticed already. Not only is he the ideal player on the ice, but he represents the Flames and this city off the ice better than anyone in the league. I would put money on it that he signs more autographs than any other player and definitely more than any other Captain in the league. Whether it’s during pre-game warm-ups, after games, at charity functions or just around town, Iginla represents the game and this city with class.
So, he had a bad year. A new coach, a new system, and a few setbacks for the greatest Flame of all time (yeah I said it!). The last time Iginla’s point totals dipped below the 70 barrier, he bounced back the next year with 94 points; his second highest point total ever.
Jarome will be better this year. He has said it himself and I, for one, believe him. He is the one player I never worry about when it comes to the Flames. It’s his supporting cast that has me feeling troubled.
Here is some food for thought. The Oilers traded their heart and soul (Ryan Smyth) away in 2007. Since then they haven’t made the playoffs and last year they were the worst team in the entire league. Sure the Oilers will be better eventually, but at what cost? I am sure there are more than a handful of people that wish that day never happened.
Jarome Iginla isn’t the problem and never has been; he is part of the solution.