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Iginla still focused on Flames, not the Olympics

by Todd Kimberley
CALGARY -- Jarome Iginla could already be an Olympics junkie if he really wanted to be.

On Friday, the final day of the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games torch relay will be on Canadian television — all nine hours' worth. Then there's a two-hour pre-Opening Ceremonies special, followed by the pomp and pageantry of the Ceremonies themselves at Vancouver's B.C. Place for another three hours.

The rest of the month? An estimated 4,800 hours of coverage on multiple platforms.

But Iginla isn't ready for five-ring fixations.

"Not quite yet, I guess," the Calgary Flames captain, who'll wear an ‘A' for Team Canada at Vancouver, told reporters on Thursday morning. "The past couple of weeks, there's been a real buzz . . . but with us playing in the NHL every second day, and travelling, it's kind of sneaked up on us.

"We've still got a very important couple of games ahead of us," noted Iginla, whose Flames (29-22-9) were clinging to eighth place in the Western Conference before hosting the 11th-place Dallas Stars on Thursday and the 10th-place Anaheim Ducks on Saturday. "We see the logjam, and we know how teams are trying to catch us; we're trying to stay ahead of them and also move up.

"I'm looking forward to (the Games). It's hard to believe they're already here. Sunday, everyone takes off, for whatever their plans are, but right now . . . the focus is still here."

Iginla is one of only three players on the 2010 Canadian roster, along with Chris Pronger and Martin Brodeur, who have experienced the glory of Salt Lake City gold in 2002 and the mortification of seventh place at Torino in 2006.

Team Canada executive director Steve Yzerman and Co. are obviously relieved to see Iginla emerge from his offensive doldrums. After going 11 games without a goal through January -- his longest such stretch since a 13-game drought in 1999 -- Iginla had 10 points in eight games heading into Thursday night's meeting with the Stars.

Iginla, 32, understands the enormous pressure that will be placed upon him and his teammates to win Olympic gold at home, like the Americans did in 1960 and 1980.

But he believes this roster -- with the likes of Brodeur and Roberto Luongo in net; Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Dan Boyle and Pronger on the blue line; and Sidney Crosby, Rick Nash, Jonathan Toews, and the sublime San Jose Sharks trio of Patrick Marleau, Dany Heatley and Joe Thornton up front -- was purpose-built for an onerous job.

"There's definitely pressure, but that's all right. Playing for Canada — world juniors, world championship, World Cup — all the guys feel that pressure. It's gold or bust. We understand that," Iginla said.

"And what we can do as players is enjoy the atmosphere . . . enjoy the challenge," he added. "We believe we can win it. There's a lot of good teams. In the past, in every (Olympic) tournament, there've been close games. But I like our chances. We have a lot of depth all the way through."

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