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Power and grace

by Staff Writer / Calgary Flames
He's one of those "walk softly, but carry a big stick" guys. So during a recent road trip through New York it was a treat to see Iginla up close as one of the NHL's marquee players and also one of its class guys.

You can see where being a teammate of Iginla is one of those accomplishments that will be cherished long down the road, much as we saw from the former teammates of Trevor Linden who journeyed to Vancouver to see his No. 16 retired Wednesday night.

"As far as being vocal, I've been here for 12 years and I'm 31 years old, so each year you feel more comfortable," Iginla said of getting his message across. "I wouldn't say I'm quiet or anything, but there are certain things that as a group you have to address.

"Part of being a captain is understanding it's definitely not just one guy. It's important to have help in assistants and older guys that have been around. We have all seen different things and bring different things to the table. It's important to be able to lean on each other because sometimes we're all seeing different things."

That might seem especially important for a team coached by Mike Keenan, known to be a volatile personality. But Iginla said "Iron Mike" hasn't been a daunting obstacle to team harmony.

"From guys who have had him before, I wouldn't name any names, but a few have said that he has mellowed quite a bit," Iginla said. "He's still very intense and one thing as players who play for him, we do appreciate his passion and his competitiveness. Some coaches, if you're losing they're upset, which they obviously should be, but even when you're winning they're worried that you don't really fully enjoy it. He gives us a lot of respect as players that if we are doing things right we can be happy, we can enjoy it. He's the happiest of the bunch when we get a win and it's fun to watch. He loves winning that much and it's contagious. As a group we have that response. He doesn't have to walk around and make sure we're smiling.

"You definitely have that extra edge to win because as happy as he is when we're winning, it's pretty close to as grumpy when we're losing," Iginla said. "We accept that as players and deal with it on the tough days, but we stick together and try to back our focus to get another streak because they are fun when he's happy."

And that happiness may stem from the Flames icing a better team that the one that finished 2007-08 with a 42-30-10 mark.

"I think we are a better team," Iginla agreed. "I think we have more potential this year. We have more depth and we're a quicker team. All the way through the lineup we have been able to get goals in different spots. We have a very similar defense.

"Earlier in the year, we were a little soft in letting goals go in, but I think we're a quicker team that is able to move the puck better. We're getting more shots and from the skating we're getting more goals all the way through. I don't think we have had that as much in the past. This year, (Curtis) Glencross and (Rene) Bourque have scored some big goals. (David) Moss, too, and (Dustin) Boyd has had a good push for us. In tight games we have been finding goals on every line."

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