FEELING GOOD & READY TO GO
For Calgary Flames captain Jarome Iginla
, Friday's fitness testing couldn't come fast enough.
"It's great to get started. It feels like a little bit later camp this year. I don't know if it is or not but maybe it's all the time off we had. It's great to be back and have this day done with and get ready for the ice."
The reigning fitness testing king, the 34 year-old looked no worse for wear after being put through the paces all morning. When questioned if the annual testing has gotten harder as he's gotten older, he just shook his head.
"I haven't felt that yet. Hopefully that's a number of years off," he grinned. "It always feels very similar. They usually get most of what we have out of us. It's always tough and by the end of the day, we're always pretty spent."
The Flames lost two key members of their core over the summer with Robyn Regehr being dealt to Buffalo and Daymond Langkow being traded to Phoenix but Iginla doesn't feel there was a big shift in the level of familiarity in the locker room.
"It's different not seeing Robyn here today," he acknowledged. "He had been here for such a long time. And Lanks was too. But for the amount of guys (here), a lot of us are very familiar with each other and it feels like we didn't lose a lot of guys in free agency over the summer.
"It just feels like we had a extended break and we're back with guys feeling comfortable, the same coach, and I think that can be a real positive going into the season."
PROVING A POINT
With new testing regimens, new players coming into the Scotiabank Saddledome for the first time and a new season about to start, you wouldn't think someone's hair style would be the main topic of conversation.
Cue Olli Jokinen
's appearance on Friday.
The veteran forward is sporting a full head of hair - something he hasn't done for over a decade.
"My kids have never seen me with the hair," he said with a smile "My oldest daughter is 11 and I think other kids in school were asking 'Why doesn't your dad have hair?' They were kind of teasing her that I couldn't grow hair so I just wanted to prove a point. It was my decision to shave it off and keep it clean. I'm just going to let it grow for one year then we'll see if I like it.
"I'm going for long hair this year. New season, new tricks."
While many players dread coming into fitness testing, Jokinen actually revels in the experience and enjoys far more now than when he was younger.
"It feels better, every year it feels better. When you get older, you get more experience and you know what to expect. You get excited to get started."
Flames general manager Jay Feaster is adamant players earn their spot in the lineup rather than just being slotted because of experience. Jokinen agrees wholeheartedly with this mentality and hopes to see some of the rookies on Oct. 8 when the Flames open the regular season against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
"Hopefully ... they challenge us to take our jobs. That competition makes you better and as a player, you want to have competition. Once you feel comfortable, you're done. You don't want to have that feeling in yourself."