Flames players optimistic over news of new offer

 

But player rep Matt Stajan cautions that while the offer is ‘encouraging,’ it doesn’t spell the end of the lockout

 
 
 
 
Jarome Iginla, centre, has been practising at WinSport Ice Complex with other members of the team.
 

Jarome Iginla, centre, has been practising at WinSport Ice Complex with other members of the team.

Photograph by: Leah Hennel, Calgary Herald

Alex Tanguay and Jarome Iginla played on the same line Tuesday in a meaningless lockout scrimmage at Canada Olympic Park.

The pair trudged off the ice together, only to learn the unthinkable had happened right when they were peppering Henrik Karlsson with shots.

On Tuesday, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman stunned the hockey world by presenting the players with a new offer that calls for a 50-50 share in hockey related revenue and an 82-game season starting as early as Nov. 2.

Under that timeline, the Flames would open the 2012/13 campaign on Nov. 6 in Columbus. But clearly, there’s time in there to schedule a proper regular season opener against a team like Vancouver or Edmonton.

“This gets the ball rolling,” said a grinning Tanguay. “That’s what we were talking about. We were hoping something would come out — whether it was on their side or our side.”

Both Tanguay and Iginla took great pains to say they couldn’t comment on the specifics of the offer until they actually read and reviewed it.

But . . .

“I’m not too sure on the details, so I can’t pronounce myself” Tanguay said. “But I’m excited. Fifty-fifty — they’re come a long ways from their first offer. They’re willing to negotiate. They’re willing to settle.”

Iginla seems to have a permanent smile etched on his face, but the sides of his mouth seemed to stretch a little wider upon hearing the news.

“It’s a big move,” he said, choosing his words carefully. “Both sides wanted to see movement. We wanted to see it.

“We wanted to see movement, and that’s definitely movement.”

The question remains: have the owners moved far enough for the players’ liking?

After taking part in an NHLPA conference call to discuss the matter, Matt Stajan indicated the offer is still seriously lacking in some areas.

“I don’t think we should look too much on the surface,” Stajan said Tuesday evening. “Because when you break it down, yes, it’s 50-50, but 50-50 of what?

“I think it’s being portrayed a little more than it is at that moment. But it’s definitely encouraging as players to finally have an offer from the owners that probably should have been where they started at. But hopefully this will start something.

“We’ll obviously come back at them with a proposal here in the next couple of days — or a response, anyways. And hopefully, this will get done sooner rather than later.”

Like the rest of their playing brethren — including Stajan — Iginla and Tanguay are tired of skating in circles at WinSport with no games on the horizon. Iginla is 35. Tanguay is 32.

Both realize this time is precious.

“It’s been hard,” Iginla said of the unscheduled break. “It’s been challenging.

“We love playing hockey. We know we’re fortunate to play hockey. So that’s never in question. I know fans who are upset, and they have a right to be. It’s about trying to find balance as players, and I know the owners are trying to find that on the other side.”

Tanguay, for one, can’t wait until both sides actually come to an agreement and the puck drops on the regular season.

“I remember the ’94 strike,” Tanguay said. “And I remember the last lockout. The last one was harder, because I was playing at the time. You feel like you’re taking candy away from a kid.

“I’m excited to see what comes out of it, and I’m hoping this is going to get the ball rolling. As I’ve said many times before, we want to get back playing.

“This is a good day. We’ll see what comes out of it.”

The lockout could prove beneficial, in a way, for Flames blueliner Cory Sarich. A wonky back kept him off the ice in September, but he’s back practising at full speed (as evidenced by the wind sprints with fellow d-man Mark Giordano at the end of Tuesday’s session.)

“No one likes to be sitting around, but I’ve been sitting around regardless unfortunately just trying to work through a little bit of an injury,” he said. “But I’m starting to have the itch. You try to skate, you try to stay in shape and do whatever you can.

“But right now, I’ve done enough sitting around. I’m ready to start playing some hockey again.”

He’s not the only one.

vhall@calgaryherald.com

 
 
 
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Jarome Iginla, centre, has been practising at WinSport Ice Complex with other members of the team.
 

Jarome Iginla, centre, has been practising at WinSport Ice Complex with other members of the team.

Photograph by: Leah Hennel, Calgary Herald

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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