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Iginla & Campbell Hockey School

by Kristi Hennessy / Calgary Flames

For the ninth consecutive year, Jarome Iginla has returned to Calgary during the off-season to teach his hockey school. The school was originally introduced in the summer of 2002 by Iginla as another way to support grassroots hockey while contributing to important charitable organizations. Cassie Campbell joined Iginla in 2008 to rebrand the program as the Jarome Iginla / Cassie Campbell Hockey School.

“It’s always enjoyable and only possible because of the instructors that donate their time,” said Iginla. “We had a lot of the same instructors back this year and a lot of the same kids back and it’s a fun time for us. We do a few drills and try to teach them some stuff and want them to have the opportunity to skate but mostly it’s just for fun.”

All proceeds from this year’s camp will be directed to Brown Bagging for Calgary Kids. BB4CK works in partnership with the Calgary Board of Education and the Calgary Separate School District to combat increasing numbers of students attending Calgary schools without a lunch. BB4CK delivered over 1,500 lunches each day to over 70 schools in 2009.

As expected, kids will be kids and say the funniest things at the funniest times. During last year’s hockey school, one that stuck out in Iginla’s mind was the boy who politely told him that Sidney Crosby was his favourite player. This year’s one-liner was even more priceless.

“We were trying to show them how to shoot and we were telling them to move the puck back,” said Iginla. “Then one kid says, ‘Malkin shoots off the toe!’ what do you say to that?”

Chuckles spread throughout the room as Iginla told that story and said there were more than enough similar funny comments from these young hockey players throughout the week.

Before Iginla escaped back into the warm summer weather, he was kind enough to chat a little bit about the recent moves by the Calgary Flames organization.

“I think they will be two of the biggest signings for pay-offs,” Iginla said about recent signings Alex Tanguay and Olli Jokinen. “Look at it as a positive. We are getting two guys who are hungry and are very determined. And are like a lot of us right now who are trying to prove ourselves.”

Iginla seemed to stick to the main point that the recent moves simply opens up options for head coach Brent Sutter. Adding two offensive players to the line-up will generate more possible combinations to find the perfect chemistry.

“Over the course of the year, there are hot streaks and cold streaks. Hopefully it’s only hot,” smiled Iginla.  “But if there are (cold streaks), there are a lot more offensive options and a lot more weapons.”

It’s not a secret that there are some disgruntled Flames fans out there since free agency day. Iginla expressed his understanding. He says that regardless of what the signings or moves were, he was prepared that not all of the talk would be positive.

“Last year was a terrible year for us,” said Iginla. “We didn’t expect it to be an easy summer with people being happy about it and can’t wait for next year. We have to go out and prove it and respond, and earn back some of that respect and prove that we can be a better team and a top team.

“We know it’s not all going to be positive, and it shouldn’t be. If I was a fan, I’d probably have a ‘wait and see’ attitude too.”

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