Flames say they’re not worried about Jarome Iginla’s back problems

Along with being one of the most well-respected captains in the NHL, Jarome Iginla earns respect because he’s something of an “iron man.” Despite playing a rather rugged style for a star-caliber player, Iginla hasn’t missed a single game in the last four seasons and has never played in less than 70 games in his 14-year career.

That being said, Iginla is 34 years old now – and while he hasn’t slowed down much yet with 43 goals and 86 points last season – one cannot help but wonder if he might start to wear down a bit.

Eric Francis reports that Iginla left the Flames’ opening practice with back spasms and has missed six days since. Some might be troubled by this situation, but Flames head coach Brent Sutter insisted that the team is simply waiting for their crucial winger to get back to 100 percent health instead of rushing him into a hasty return.

Should Flames fans worry, though?

“Don’t,” was coach Brent Sutter’s advice.

“At this point in time, there’s nothing to worry about. He has some back spasms and a bit of muscle issues, and it got aggravated in practice the other day and just needs to settle down. That happens.”

(snip)

“It’s not structural or anything to worry about,” said Sutter.

“Each day, he’s getting better. He’s really close. If we were playing today or the regular season was starting next week, he’d be playing, but he wouldn’t be 100%, so why would we be playing him? We need everyone to have a good start to the year, and we want to be a consistent team from the get-go. He’ll be a big part of that.”

No doubt about it, the Flames’ all-time leader in goals, points and games played remains the most important skater on the team. Some might argue that Iginla remains “on an island” when it comes to accompanying talent in Calgary, although Alex Tanguay has become a solid running mate for him lately.

The Flames’ playoff hopes are murky for sure, but one thing they can almost certainly count on is another year of strong work from Iginla – as long as he’s healthy, that is.

(H/T to Rotoworld.)

Predators tab Roman Josi as new captain, call him ‘our Roger Federer’

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The Nashville Predators boasted some appealing options to take the torch from Mike Fisher as captain, but really there was only one obvious name: Roman Josi.

Josi officially became the team’s eighth captain on Tuesday. Ryan Ellis appears to be second-in-command as “associate” captain, while they seem interested in spreading the leadership wealth around otherwise:

As captain, Josi will see an increased role on the Predators leadership team, which will also see some new appointments. Defenseman Ryan Ellis has been named as the team’s associate captain, while Ryan Johansen, Filip Forsberg and Mattias Ekholm will all serve as alternate captains. In addition, Pekka Rinne, P.K. Subban and Nick Bonino have all taken positions within the leadership group.

If that’s not a sign that the team is taking this seriously – kind of amusingly so – consider that Ellis and Josi “interviewed” for the position and Peter Laviolette evoked military structures in discussing the decision, as sports teams love to do.

Josi seemed flattered when GM David Poile described him as “our Roger Federer,” a fellow Swiss sports star.

At face value, that’s great, especially since it breaks through the near-corporate-speak that saddles announcements like these.

That said, it’s funny to compare the leader in a team sport to a tennis player, among the most individualistic athletes in all of sport. There aren’t many moments of teamwork beyond doubles and rare events like the Davis Cup.

Overall, it’s another strong decision by the Predators. It’s merely fun to tease them a bit about the cornier aspects.

Awful injury news for Blues’ Bouwmeester, Sanford

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Hockey’s training camps and exhibition games share a lot of similarities, big-picture wise, with other sports.

As much as they’re all about evaluating players trying to make rosters and rule tweaks heading into each season, the “winners” of a pre-season may just be the teams that make it out without any significant injuries. The St. Louis Blues aren’t one of those winners.

The team announced unsettling injury updates for defenseman Jay Bouwmeester and forward Zach Sanford on Tuesday.

Sanford is expected to miss five-to-six months after undergoing shoulder surgery. That virtually wipes out an important season for a guy who was still trying to stake his claim to a full-time roster spot.

Bouwmeester’s situation is probably more troubling, potentially, as he’s already a key defenseman for the Blues (averaging more than 22 minutes last season, which was a slight decrease from recent work). The team announced that Bouwmeester suffered a fractured ankle and will be re-evaluated in three weeks.

As tormenting as day-to-day updates can be, “check back in three weeks” makes for even greater anxiety.

It does open up some opportunities for other players in the Blues organization, for whatever that’s worth.

This news comes shortly after the Ottawa Senators announced that Colin White will miss multiple weeks with a broken wrist.

You almost wonder if we’ll start to see fewer practice updates like these:

Senators’ prospect Colin White out 6-8 weeks with broken wrist

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Bad news for the Ottawa Senators today.

The club announced Tuesday that prospect center Colin White is out six to eight weeks with a broken left wrist.

The Senators selected White 21st overall in the 2015 NHL Draft. After two years at Boston College, he signed his entry-level deal in April and appeared in two regular season games for Ottawa. He also appeared in a Stanley Cup playoff game, though he only saw 2:39 of ice time.

That’s certainly disappointing for White, who could’ve had a shot to make the big club out of training camp. One of the question marks for Ottawa had been the status of fellow center Derick Brassard, who had offseason shoulder surgery with a recovery timeline of four to five months.

“I come here and worry about myself, do the right things on and off the ice, take care of my body. If I’m playing well and taking care of my game, I’ll fight for a spot,” White told the Ottawa Citizen prior to training camp.

It was a little on the foggy side for Canucks practice in Shanghai

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The Vancouver Canucks dealt with some adverse conditions as they hit the ice at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai in preparation for this week’s 2017 NHL China Games exhibition series versus the L.A. Kings.

According to the pictures, it was a little on the foggy side for their practice.

Is that . . . Henrik Sedin in the distance?

The Canucks and Kings face off Thursday at Mercedes-Benz Arena, before traveling to Beijing for Saturday’s game at Wukesong Arena.

The good news? It appears the fog was lifted in time for the Kings’ practice.