CALGARY, AB -- Sighs of relief could be heard across the city when it was announced on Thursday morning that Flames captain Jarome Iginla has returned to the ice.
"It was pretty brief - just 20 minutes," he said after the Flames pregame skate. "Just a step. Unfortunately it took a bit longer to get back and skating than I thought but I felt good today."
Thursday's stint on the ice is the first time since Sept. 18 Iginla has been able to skate since suffering back spasms during the Flames first on-ice session at training camp.
Over the course of the past two weeks, he's progressed to the point where he feels comfortable practicing but the coaching and medical staff erred on the side of caution by keeping him off the ice.
"As athletes, we're excited to get out there and we want to just push, push, push," he smiled. "Sometimes we need to be held back a little bit. That was kind of the 20 minute limit I got today - to go and see. Warm it up and just slowly start building that confidence again and that trust."
As frustrating as it was to be kept on the sidelines, Iginla realizes the timing for something like to occur couldn't have been better. Watching preseason games, he said, is a lot easier than having to sit in the press box during the regular season.
"Anybody who gets an injury ... we all want to be on the ice and we all want to be playing, being a part of it. But at the same time when I looked at it, I'd rather it be now than during the season. So I looked at it as kind of a positive I guess. The timing may be a blessing."
The captain expects to be ready to go when the regular season kicks off on Oct. 8 and is hoping to begin skating with the team soon.
"It's not my call really," he said when asked about the timeline to return to team practices. "It's all steps. Today was just getting out and getting back into striding and stuff like that. Hopefully tomorrow I'll feel great and each day build up."