Hockey Canada announced that Steve Yzerman will once again be leading Team Canada in their Olympic Hockey pursuit of gold, this time to Russia for the 2014 winter games. Currently, the NHL/NHLPA has not committed to sending its players to Russia in 2014. With the announcement of Yzerman as executive director, the 2002 gold medal game came rushing back to memory. Steve Yzerman and Jerome Ignla both played on that team together and ended up line mates with Joe Sakic. The 2002 winter games provided the Canadian team with a glorious run to Gold Medal match-up with Team USA. Sakic and Iginla lit up the USA defence in that final game with two goals each, propelling Team Canada to a convincing win.
It is hard to believe that Iginla was a late invite to the Team Canada camp in 2002 and became the bright spot on a team of aging stars. Would it be worth bringing Inginla back to the International stage for one more shot at Gold in 2014? I have to believe that his great spectrum of experience on the international stage would be an asset to the team both on the ice and in the dressing room of Team Canada. The 2014 Team Canada will likely include young players such as Steve Stamkos and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, both of which will need an elder statesman for guidance on the grand international stage. This is a player that is not only respected amongst the loyal fan base in Calgary but is well-regarded amongst his peers. In my eyes, Iginla has always stood out as a player that has a commitment to the game, the community in which he plays and the country in which he was born; Canada.
Jarome has been able to keep relatively healthy through the years and still looks and plays a physical game. When the train leaves for the Russian Siberian hockey tundra, he will be a young 37 years of age. I have no doubt that Iginla should be mentioned in the selection process as the Olympics approach. Keep him in mind when standing around the “water cooler” discussing the upcoming selection; remember he would be a fitting piece of both experience and scoring ability.
Future with the Flames
With the amount of players on the Calgary Flames preparing for free agency this year the time to strike a deal and really begin a solid rebuild is now. This could be a perfect time to rebuild on a few draft picks and use the cap space going out-of-town in order to play the free agency market as well. Sounds easy enough, however with a cap hit of near $7 million the ability to move him may prove difficult.
His 14 year career with the Calgary Flames has to be put in perspective when talking of a trade; the deal needs to be one that allows Iginla to leave with some dignity. A front office job with the team and his continued community work in Calgary can’t be jeopardized in the possible departure that should set the team up for a great rebuild.
Possible Canadian destinations include Ottawa, Toronto and even Winnipeg. The Ottawa Senators will be in need of a Veteran leader in the coming year or two with the possible retirement of the Captain Daniel Alfredsson. The Toronto Maple Leafs could use veteran know-how on that young squad and allow Iginla to provide the missing soft hands in front of the net they so desperately need. The Winnipeg Jets have both cap space and youth to send the other way if they are looking for a right-winger to compliment young center Brian Little.
This year if the Flames make the playoffs and have an early exit, or not make it to the postseason whatsoever will only bolster the argument for Iginla making the move. Inginla’s contract doesn’t set to expire until the end next season, moving him at the end of this year will make sense for both parties. Look for the trade rumours to start-up before July 1 this summer as many teams will be lined up for his services when he makes himself available.