Iginla sits out opening day of camp with groin pull
Coach Bob Hartley held captain out as a precautionary measure
In conversations like these, the boss always gets the last word.
Calgary Flames coach Bob Hartley, for his friends in the press, recounted Saturday’s chat with winger Jarome Iginla.
Coach: “Are you 100 per cent?”
Star: “I’m good to go.”
Coach: “That’s not my question.”
Star: “Well, I’m close.”
Coach: “ ‘Close’ at this time is not good enough.”
And so it was that Day 1 of training camp saw Iginla, hobbled by groin troubles, perched in the Saddledome stands, along with centre Roman Cervenka (blood clot) and defenceman Anton Babchuk (shoulder).
Hartley pointed out that aggravating Iginla’s injury — in relatively meaningless camp sessions — would be a silly risk. And even if the resulting cost was only a week’s sidelining, that could add up to as many as four missed games in the condensed schedule.
“We just can’t afford this,” said Hartley. “If we were playing tonight, most likely he’d be in the lineup. But I’ve got to be more on the safe side than giving him the green light because he wants to be there.”
The Flames captain, who did the tweaking during an informal skate last week, said he intends to return to the ice as early as Monday.
“There’s no easing in,” Iginla said of Hartley’s high-tempo practices and the busy regular-season. “It feels pretty good. But it’s a slight pull. I want to be ready. It’s hard to watch.
“Hopefully, it’s literally one more day.”
It’s worth noting that Iginla missed nearly all of last season’s training camp with a cranky back — and subsequently played nary an exhibition game — but still ended up dressing for all 82 dates for the fifth straight winter.
Meaning his non-participation Sunday had been a relatively easy decision.
“With the compressed schedule, with the compressed time frame for camp, rather than have Jarome out there and pushing — because we know that he would — we told Jarome that we didn’t want him to skate,” said general manager Jay Feaster. “We said that we won’t get any points this week, but next Sunday we’d like to pick up two. So that’s the reason Jarome didn’t skate.
“We called it precautionary. It’s nothing that we’re concerned about. But we don’t want to push right now when we don’t think there’s a reason to do that.”
That same common sense approach extends to Cervenka, who, according to Feaster, is now blood-clot-free. The Czech centre, however, is still on anticoagulant medication.
“Basically, what our doctors have said is that there’s a prescribed period of time that you have to remain on that medication,” explained Feaster. “It doesn’t matter how you’re feeling or whether or not the blood clot is present. The prescribed period of time has not elapsed yet, so, for that reason, he was not cleared to participate.”
For Cervenka, the Flames have booked an appointment with a hematology specialist in the United States.
“As soon as he’s free to come off the anticoagulant medication, then he would be cleared to skate, so that’s the only issue,” said Feaster. “Because it’s an anticoagulant, we can’t have him getting cut and bleeding. We also don’t want to have him getting hit and having any internal bleeding.”
Till then, Cervenka, who signed to a one-year deal worth $3.78 million in the summer, is unavailable.
“He’s disappointed, he’s anxious, he wants to be out there,” said Feaster. “And as we explained to him, this is about a career for the Calgary Flames and Roman, it’s not about the first day of training camp.”
Babchuk, meanwhile, hurt his wing in Russia. The good news is that team doctors here aren’t concerned.
“The shoulder is strong, the shoulder has no history of injury,” said Feaster, “and within three weeks, he should be good to go.”
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