CALGARY – For the third straight year, Jarome Iginla faced the unpleasant task of answering questions about why the Calgary Flames failed to qualify for the playoffs.
Two days after the Calgary Flames finished up yet another disappointing season, Iginla and the rest of his teammates cleaned out their lockers and had exit meetings at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
“It gets a little bit old,” said Iginla when he met with the media on Monday afternoon. “I would rather absolutely not be doing this, but it’s part of what goes with the territory. We’re out of the playoffs. We answer the questions.”
Iginla said that missing the playoffs once again definitely took its toll on everyone involved with the team.
“It’s hard on everybody in the dressing room,” said the Calgary captain. “It’s hard on everybody in the organization around town. It’s hard on our fans when they have to fight with other fans of other teams verbally. We’re all tired of it and we’d like it to change, but we didn’t change it.”
After Calgary wrapped up its season with a 5-2 win at home over the Anaheim Ducks, Iginla said he wasn’t sure what the future holds for him and that he didn’t know if he wanted to be part of the Flames if they were going to go through a rebuilding process. Iginla reiterated those comments on Monday.
“I don’t know what direction everything is going,” said Iginla, while adding that he’s not sure that “a full rebuild” is what’s required for the Flames. “On the other side, you hate to have to keep saying I think that we can be a good team. I do believe that, but I know people don’t want to hear that now.”
With one year left on his contract, Iginla didn’t rule out the possibility of returning for his 16th straight season with the Flames.
“My plan is—and until someone tells me different—that I’m going to be preparing and working hard and coming back to have a bounce-back year for the team,” said Iginla, who’s fully aware that Calgary general manager Jay Feaster will be looking to make changes in the off-season. “I know that there are hard decisions and each year they get harder with players and all that stuff when you’ve been out for three years.”
Forward Alex Tanguay, who just finished the first season of a five-year contract, said that potential change is part of the business that hockey players and teams face on a year-to-year basis.
“I’m not going to speculate on what this team’s going to do because honestly I have no idea,” said Tanguay, who would definitely like to see Iginla return to the Flames for another season. “Jarome has been a big part of this franchise for a long time. He’s an outstanding player. He’s an outstanding person. He means a lot to this city and he means a lot to the organization.
“You look at this team and the first name that comes to mind is always Jarome.”
Forward Michael Cammalleri, who the Flames re-acquired in January from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for Rene Bourque, also gave Iginla a ringing endorsement.
“I’m a huge Jarome Iginla fan,” Cammalleri. “I have a tremendous amount of respect for what he brings as a leader and a hockey player.”
When asked if he would like to take on more of a leadership role next season, Cammalleri responded: “I like the leadership responsibility and I feel like I’m capable and can add in that capacity. I would just rather do it alongside of (Iginla). I’d like to win and everything. I think our best chance of winning is with him here in that role (as captain).”
Cammalleri also addressed the issue of the inevitability that the Flames will ice a vastly different roster next season.
“Quite frankly, I just want to be a part of the solution and leave that confidence in the people that are going to make decisions and help us get there and improve for next year,” Cammalleri said. “I’ll look forward to working hard on the details of my game and coming back with a rejuvenated focus for next season.”
One of six unrestricted free agents on the Flames, veteran forward Olli Jokinen said he’d like nothing more than to re-sign in Calgary.
“The only team I’ve been thinking about signing (with) is the Calgary Flames,” Jokinen said. “I think we’ll find out pretty soon what direction the Flames are going and we’ll go from there.”
The other UFAs for Calgary include forwards Lee Stempniak, David Moss and Tom Kostopoulos along with defencemen Cory Sarich and Scott Hannan.
“I have no idea what’s going to happen,” said Sarich in regards to whether the Flames will re-sign him. “I don’t even know what I’m doing tomorrow.”
One thing that Sarich does know is Calgary’s management will be looking into potentially overhauling the team’s roster in the off-season.
“Obviously something has to change because whatever we’ve been doing is not working,” Sarich said. “I don’t think it is a simple answer.”