Has Jarome Iginla played his last game as a Flame?
As deadline looms, rumours flying and scouts flocking, while players say the usual stuff about focusing on the ice
On the surface, the customary sellout crowd of 19,289 filled the pews Sunday night at the Scotiabank Saddledome to watch the 28th-place Calgary Flames take on the surging St. Louis Blues.
In reality, the faithful came to soak up the sight of Jarome Iginla with the flaming ‘C’ on his chest for what could be the final time.
According to both RDS and TSN, the 35-year-old Iginla has submitted a list of four teams he is willing to waive his no-movement clause for: the Boston Bruins, Los Angeles Kings, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Chicago Blackhawks.
Perhaps not coincidentally, the list includes the last four Stanley Cup champions.
Hard to believe after 16 seasons, the smiling face of the franchise could actually leave, but the trade winds surrounding the captain gust stronger by the hour — not the day.
Before the game Sunday, a relaxed Iginla told Sportsnet’s Roger Millions that the whole team is dealing with speculation, and that he just wants to have fun.
As fun as it might be to hook up again with Olympic linemate Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh is hard to fathom as a destination for Iginla after the Penguins acquired veteran forward Brenden Morrow Sunday from the Dallas Stars.
So Boston? Los Angeles? Chicago?
“I’m sure the media pays a lot more attention to that stuff than guys in the room do,” said Chris Butler. “It’s not like we’re sitting around asking Iggy if he is going to get traded.
“You know stuff is out there. There’s always rumours. There’s always some guy who overheard somebody who thinks they said something. We don’t pay too much attention to it, I don’t think.”
Perhaps so, but the rest of the world is sure paying attention. Iginla was the lead trending topic in all of Canada on Sunday night and #freeIginla trended Friday night in Calgary after yet another Flames loss in Columbus.
NHL scouts are also paying attention, with representatives from the New York Rangers, Boston Bruins, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, Winnipeg Jets and Minnesota Wild in the house Sunday night at the Saddledome.
“You just deal with it,” defenceman Mark Giordano said of the constant trade chatter. “Obviously, you try not to pay too much attention to the rumours or what’s going on, but you just prepare the same way.
“You come to the rink the same way every day.”
But that’s easier said than done, especially with the Flames languishing in 28th and names like Iginla, Jay Bouwmeester and Miikka Kiprusoff possibly on the move.
“Obviously, we’re not in a position where we want to be,” Giordano said. “There’s going to be rumours. There’s going to be speculation and all that sort of stuff. So we have to not think about it and just play. Just come to the rink every day and have hope that we can turn this around.”
Turning things around, for the Flames, looks nearly impossible with Calgary sitting seven points out of a playoff spot heading into action Sunday against the Blues.
The players are saying the right things. So too is head coach Bob Hartley. But the conviction is clearly waning.
“There’s still hope,” Giordano said. “We have to find a way to string wins together in a big way. And hopefully if we do that, we’ll be able to sneak in.”
But how exactly do the players with their names in the headlines — like Iginla, like Bouwmeester, like Kiprusoff, Cory Sarich and even Anton Babchuk — focus on the task at hand when their personal future is at stake?
“It depends where you are,” said defenceman Dennis Wideman. “If you’re in a situation where you could get traded — and there’s a lot of rumours surrounding you and you’ve got a family or something, then maybe that’s a little more difficult to deal with.
“But I think we’ve all been there. It’s part of the game. You just learn to deal with it.”
For his part, Hartley deals with the flurry of trade speculation by not dealing with it.
Ignorance can be bliss.
“On my side, you can ask any GM that I’ve worked with,” the coach said. “I don’t want to know, so that it doesn’t affect my relationship with my player. At the end, if he wants to come to me and says, ‘we can trade this guy for that guy, what do you think?’ and he wants to include me in this process, I’m fine with it.
“But before every season, I remind my GM, ‘don’t feed me with stuff I don’t need to know unless it’s very important.’ So when a player comes to me, I can tell him I really don’t know what’s going on.”
All promises to become clear within the next 10 days.
Check out what people are saying on Twitter about letting Iggy go:
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