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Calgary Flames Captain Jerome Iginla, the most complete player in the NHL

By Peter D. McAlister

Anyone who made their way to Nationwide Arena Saturday night to attend the Columbus Blue Jackets game against the Calgary Flames not only witnessed another Jackets late game meltdown in a 4-3 shootout loss but were also privileged to see perhaps the National Hockey League’s best all around player. Pound for pound and dollar for dollar, be it American or Canadian, Flames forward Jerome Iginla epitomizes what hockey is all about and how it should be played.

To the 17,772 in attendance it may have only been an afterthought after watching Columbus blow a two goal lead with less than six minutes left in regulation but in reality the final score was more about what Iginla “is” as opposed to what the Blue Jackets are not. I found myself watching him away from the puck, taking care of his responsibilities, not thinking twice about engaging in controlled chances in the defensive zone and most of all standing up for his teammates while being aware of everything on the ice. Many hockey players wear the “C” on their sweater but Iginla wears it on his heart.

Go back to the 2004 Stanley Cup Finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning and you realize where Jerome Iginla’s quiet fire rages from. He was good then but is great now. Maybe it is the fact that after winning game five in Tampa the Flames headed to Alberta looking forward to a win in game six to close the series and enjoy a ruckus celebration with the red mile faithful. Unfortunately, Calgary lost game six at home and faced a determined Lightning at the St. Pete Times Forum in game seven and couldn’t overcome the disappointment of not closing out the series north of the border. Since that series Iginla not only has upped his performance but also his will to bring the Stanley Cup home to Calgary.

As the National Hockey League’s best road team, with only one regulation loss this season which happened to be in Columbus against the Blue Jackets on October 13th, the Calgary Flames seem to have found a drive and a purpose that has eluded the franchise in the past. It is no coincidence that this new drive and purpose has evolved from seasons of disappointment. A disappointment that may be looked at in June of 2010 after the Stanley Cup Finals as irrelevant if Iginla has his way.

Blue Jackets captain Rick Nash and Jerome Iginla will be teammates on the Canadian Olympic team in February while the NHL takes a two week break to allow its’ stars to once again shine on the world stage in Vancouver. Blue Jacket fans should hope that Nash uses those two weeks to be an understudy of perhaps the best all around athlete in all of professional sports.

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