Iginla happy to stay a Flame
Captain wasn't worried about trade talk following season
When the trade whispers travelled like wild fire following the end of the regular season, Iginla, the Flames captain, 13-year veteran and face of the franchise, took it all in.
On May 26th, Calgary Flames President and CEO, Ken King, zipped the trade talk for good, reassuring fans that Iginla wasn’t going anywhere.
Iginla wasn't surprised or shocked by the declaration.
“I already knew that,” Iginla told the Calgary Herald from his off-season home in Kelowna, B.C. “From a personal point of view, in my exit meetings after the season with Ken and management and ownership, they said I was still in their plans and they still believed in me.”
Iginla, 32, has played his entire career in a Flames uniform and has no intention or desire to jump ship. He understands the frustrations that the fans and outsiders had with the team last season and wants to reassure them that he’s coming back not just because he likes the city of Calgary, but he wants to win.
“We have very passionate fans who follow our team and have different ideas,” Iginla said. “We were out of the playoffs. People were unhappy. Changes happen. People talk. And that’s fine. I have no problem with any of it.
“I think we have a lot of good things still going for our team,” Iginla said. “I think we have the best goaltender in the world. I think we have a strong defence with some really good, mobile guys.”
Head Coach Brent Sutter excels in defensive style coaching which clearly showed in the stats last season. The Flames finished fifth in the goals-against column with 203 last season compared to 246 from the prior year.
On the other side of things, their goal production was lacking as they finished in 29th offensively with only 201 goals. In the 2008-09 season, they finished with 251, good enough to tie for seventh in the league.
“Last year, our focus was really on getting better defensively,” Iginla said. “We did that. Brent taught us a lot on the defensive side of things. I think he’s going to teach us a few more things offensively this year.”
With that said, Iginla will wait to see what will come out of the summer months and what tricks Flames general manager Darryl Sutter may have up his sleeve.
Iginla believes that there will definitely be some changes to the roster.
"We have guys who can put the puck in the net," he said, "but if we can add a couple of really skilled guys, I think we'll be able to compete with the best of them and be right there."
Right now he has other things on his mind to remember and look back on. Iginla’s grandfather, Rick Schuchard, 88, passed away on May 21, 2010. He was very close to his grandparents as they were there to help raise and support him in whatever he did.
“My parents divorced when I was one,” Iginla said. “My dad was going to school. My mom was working. Both my grandparents were there. They picked me up after school. They got me to baseball and hockey practices.”
Schuchard drove Iginla to his first ever hockey tryout at age 7. He was there to drive him to and from practices and games and to help cheer him on. He played a big part in Iginla’s early hockey development as he watched him grow into one of the strongest, most competitive players in the Edmonton area.
“Grandpa loved sports,” Iginla said. “He was very competitive. But he always supported me and never pushed me. I never left a game and heard, ‘You’ve got to do this or that or you’ve got to work harder,’ ” Iginla said. “It was always just fun. I appreciate that looking back. He was there to cheer me on and to support me.”
Iginla says his grandpa was a diehard Flames fan and would read every article he could find on the Flames. He was there right until the end, cheering his grandson on as they pushed to make the 2010 playoffs.
“To lose anyone is very sad,” Iginla said. “But my grandpa, we had him for a long time. He was 88. He was healthy until the last year. He still drove and was still active.”