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.”
“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.)