Looking back, Calgary Flames fans might always regret not bidding Jarome Iginla a proper farewell before the captain flocked to the Pittsburgh Penguins in pursuit of that elusive Stanley Cup.
Sure, they cheered his likeness on the Flames Energy Board a couple of days after the fact at the precise moment Iginla was 35,000 feet in the air en route to his new life. An in-person farewell was not to be.
In terms of Miikka Kiprusoff, however, Calgary fans can rest easy in the knowledge they properly feted No. 34 in what will likely go down as his last appearance at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
On Friday night, they came bearing signs that read “Please Don’t Go Kipper” “Thank You Kipper” and our personal favourite “Win One For The Kipper.”
In the end, the Flames did win one for the Kipper with a 3-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks — although defenceman Mark Giordano isn’t ready to accept this was the swan song for No. 34.
“As players, we’re hoping it’s not his last home game,” Giordano was saying Friday morning. “For sure there will be some talking with him as players. But whatever he decides, we’re happy for him.
“We would just like to see him back next year.”
On this night, the Saddledome faithful turned up the volume on cheers for every Kiprusoff stop, even those of the mundane variety. The crowd positively roared in the second period when the Finnish netminder flashed his glove to deny sniper Corey Perry.
From a Calgary perspective, Mikael Backlund had one heck of a game. Not exactly known as a fighter, the Swedish centre dropped the gloves in the first period with Anaheim defenceman Ben Lovejoy.
Backlund also earned an instigator minor, the first fighting major of his career and 10-minute misconduct after Lovejoy delivered a knee-on-knee hit knocked Curtis Glencross out for the evening and possibly the season.
Battling for a new contract, Backlund, 24, clearly earned the respect of his teammates, even if he lost the fight.
To punctuate his night, Backlund risked serious bodily harm by blocking a Francois Beauchemin slapper with his boot.
“All those kids ... their training camp have already started,” head coach Bob Hartley was saying earlier in the day. “For all of them. None of them are guaranteed a job for next year.”
One of those players fighting for a job, Roman Horak, opened the scoring at 2:45 of the second period. The sophomore pivot banged home a rebound off a Lee Stempniak offering that nailed the post.
Another player fighting for a job — although of the young variety — is Brian McGrattan. The enforcer scored his third of the season at 3:14 of the final frame by breaking hard to the middle and poking the puck through Jonas Hiller.
But the night clearly belonged to Kiprusoff, who wrote a fitting ending — if this is indeed the end — to his tenure at the Saddledome.
Perry broke the shutout bid at 16:19, but Kiprusoff proceeded to slam down his pad a minute later to leave the Duck winger staring skyward.
With two minutes left, the crowd stood as one and chanted “Kipper, Kipper, Kipper.” Roman Cervenka scored an empty-netter with 51 seconds left, and the crowd still stood in honour of No. 34.
A proper farewell it was.
C-Notes: On Friday afternoon, general manager Jay Feaster announced the signing of C Markus Granlund to a three-year entry level contract. The Flames selected Granlund — the younger brother of Minnesota Wild prospect Mikael Granlund- in the second round (45th overall) of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. In his third season with HIFK Helsinki, Granlund finished the regular season second in team scoring with 10 goals and 20 assists for 30 points in 18 games. He also finished second in tournament scoring at the 2013 World Junior Championships with five goals and seven assists for 12 points in six games.
© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald