Jarome Iginla was dogged by two questions over the past year:
What happened to the player who led the league in scoring in
2001-02? And if and when he regained form, would he still be in
Two seasons ago the 6'1", 207-pound right wing emerged as an
elite power forward, leading the NHL with 52 goals and 96 points.
But last season, though he led the team with 67 points, he bore
little resemblance to the wrecking ball that had rolled through
the league the year before. Another slow start this season and
the fact that he's in the last year of a hefty contract ($7.5
million) led to rumors that the shallow-pocketed Flames were
looking to trade their star.
That talk has died down since the start of the new year. Iginla
is again playing with verve, and the surprising Flames, 26-20-5-3
at the All-Star break last weekend, were on track to end their
seven-year postseason drought. Iginla had 12 goals and 19 points
since Jan. 1, giving him team highs of 24 and 46, respectively.
More important, he was again dictating play. Also, despite
playing on a sprained left ankle for the past three weeks, Iginla
was third among all right wings in ice time (21:27 per game) this
Injury was partly to blame for his subpar '02-03. He was bothered
for months by a dislocated finger suffered in an early-season
fight. Now that he's healthy, he appears to have responded to
coach Darryl Sutter's tough-love tactics. In October, after
Iginla failed to get a point in the season's first four games,
Sutter criticized his captain for playing with "zero emotion."
With his career back on track, Iginla may have more of a future
in Calgary than expected. A front-office source says that while
the team may still listen to offers for Iginla, the odds of him
being traded are slim. The team will most likely make a $7
million qualifying offer this summer. "I'm excited about what's
going on here and that we're in the playoff hunt," Iginla says.
"We haven't been in too many of them."