The fact the Calgary Flames beat St. Louis Sunday night isn’t really a positive note for the franchise, considering the lottery status at the moment.
The way Calgary won, however — with perhaps one final heroic Saddledome moment from captain Jarome Iginla — made it all worthwhile.
When Iginla doggedly stayed with his third period breakaway attempt even after Blues defenceman Wade Redden had relieved him of the puck, he showed the hockey world that, even at age 35 on an aimless team, he can still be a producer of big goals in important moments.
There is still enough power forward here to fight off an NHL defenceman and save the scoring chance; still enough skill to whip that puck through Jaroslav Halak’s legs from an impossible angle, when everyone in the building thought the play was dead.
And yes, he is still the heartbeat of this franchise, with a true grasp for the crucial moment. The goal was Calgary’s third in a 3-2 win.
You could even argue, despite the two points working against that high draft pick this organization so dearly needs, that Iginla’s form might help the Flames reap something closer to their asking price of two prospects and a high draft pick.
Yes, two years of mystery finally came to a close this weekend, when it was learned that the Flames are indeed ready to part with the face of their franchise. That means that finally, Calgary has taken a long enough look in the mirror to realize that the roster is simply not good enough, and it is time to start over again.
First, it was reported on the weekend that Iginla’s camp had given the Flames a list of teams he would consider waiving his no-trade to go to. Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Boston and Pittsburgh were on that list, though we can likely eliminate the Penguins after they acquired Brenden Morrow on Sunday.
Sportsnet.ca then learned the asking price for Iginla over the weekend — two prospects and a draft pick — as the team’s noble attempts to low-key this deal began to fall through.
We contacted all the possible players in this deal — from general manager Jay Feaster, to Flames president Ken King, to Iginla’s agent Don Meehan. None would even begin to speak on or off the record about the trade that is currently being explored.
It takes time and phone calls to pull off a trade of this magnitude, however. And with the Apr. 3 deadline looming, Feaster has reached out to the various GMs on Iginla’s list – a list Iginla denied having submitted, after Sunday’s game.
“I don’t want to contribute to (the trade hype),” he said.
It is impossible to conduct an auction of this magnitude in a vacuum, and with Morrow now off the market, Feaster has exactly what he wants: Four Stanley Cup contenders in Chicago, Boston, Detroit and Los Angeles, all trying to grab the best rental player on the market. And in the Bruins case, they could require Iginla to keep up with Pittsburgh, because the Penguins stand between the Bruins and another Stanley Cup.
An orchestration of this import draws some attention, and Calgary’s wish to pull this deal off in complete silence will not be granted.
This is more than just trading the face of a franchise, an Olympian, and (in our books) a Hall of Fame right-winger. It’s about the admission that after years of dismissing those folks outside of Calgary who thought the Flames needed a teardown, finally those who run the Flames have changed their minds.
The stumbling block to a rebuild in Calgary, it has always been strongly believed, was owner Murray Edwards. He proffers admirable loyalty towards Iginla, and the owner stubbornly tried to build a winner around his captain, rather than use Iginla as an asset for change.
The fact that Feaster is now shopping Iginla clearly means that Edwards has given his assent to the exercise. As such, all previous Flames ideals are wiped clean, and very likely, goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff could also be on the market. (Particularly if Iginla could reap Jonathan Bernier from the Kings.)
And with the asking price for Iginla including three items that bellow “Tomorrow!” to Flames fans, rather than today, are we not to conclude that the long suggested rebuild is finally on in Calgary?
We’re on the record already on this one: Had the Flames started this process two seasons ago — when Iginla still had some term on his contract, rather than being a pure rental — the rebuild would have been less painful, not to mention well on its way by now.
Instead, Calgary will get future prospects for Iginla, likely the same if they go ahead and move Kiprusoff and/or Jay Boumeester, and draft picks for any of the other UFAs they can ship out.
That, Flames fans, sounds very much like a rebuild.
We can’t promise it will be a lot of fun, but it is surely time in Calgary.
Just as it is time for Iginla to move on. He deserves a Stanley Cup, and like Ray Bourque before him, his best chances lie outside the building where his jersey will one day hang.