Time for Iginla to go, Kovalev not done yet and Paterson’s stellar effort not enough

The best option for all parties involved would be to trade Jarome Iginla. (Resolute/Wikimedia Commons)

The best option for all parties involved would be to trade Jarome Iginla. (Resolute/Wikimedia Commons)

Calgary Flames captain Jarome Iginla has been the subject of trade rumors for several years now to no avail, but it looks as though he may have played his last game for Calgary according to Eric Francis of The Calgary Sun. With the team free falling  in the standings and no quick fix in sight, fans are now starting to get on board with the idea of trading the Flames’ all-time leading scorer as a way to help build the future of the franchise and get the popular winger a Stanley Cup.

If he is indeed traded by the April 3 deadline, he received a proper sendoff last night with a standing ovation after scoring the game-winning goal against St. Louis. It has been announced Iginla has submitted a list of teams he would be willing to accept a trade to if it would help all parties involved. From Francis:

It’s that obvious to everyone, including Iginla, who reportedly submitted his list of teams he’d agree to be traded to over the weekend, which included Boston, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles and Chicago. (Note: the story was broken by a French reporter with close ties to coach Bob Hartley, and no one in the organization will comment.)

This team is — and has been — so bad the last four years it’s impossible to deny the time is now to start moving forward instead of being at a perpetual standstill.

People here want Iginla to chase the one thing his impeccable resume is devoid of — a Stanley Cup — and they want the team to start its rebuild with the assets he’s sure to fetch.

A win-win. It’s time.

Francis notes 80% of Flames fans believe it is time to part ways with Iginla. They, as well as many hockey minds, have seen for a long time what Flames management has refused to admit; the team is going nowhere and keeping him in Cowtown will have the same results as when Toronto and Mats Sundin didn’t want to part ways. That allowed Sundin to leave as a free agent with nothing in return and kept the Leafs in disarray for several seasons longer than necessary. More from Francis:

The cupboards are bare, the organization’s plan is a mess, and it’s been proven Flames GM Jay Feaster has not been ‘intellectually honest’ about where his club is at.

Things aren’t going to get better anytime soon.

The Flames somehow never thought this day would come. But every day it looms over the team, the fans, the organization and the city will only prompt increased anger and frustration.

Trading a rental player like Iginla won’t change the team’s fortunes overnight. But given the bidding war sure to form for his services the team is likely to land a late first-rounder, a solid prospect and perhaps a top-nine forward for him.

It’s a start for a club that has forever mortgaged the future at this time of year to chase eighth-place in vain.

Iginla has put up 525-570-1,095 with 829 PIM and a plus-47 in 1,218 games and entered the year with at least 30 goals in 11 consecutive seasons.

*     *     *

Florida Panthers right wing Alex Kovalev recently retired from the NHL, but that doesn’t mean he’s done with hockey just yet. The 40-year-old recorded just 2-3-5 in 14 games this season, but intends to play in Europe next season according to Jeff Z. Klein of The New York Times. Kovalev still feels he can play at a high level and doesn’t want his retirement decided for him. From Klein:

“I’m not ready for this kind of event,” Kovalev told reporters at a Montreal Canadiens old-timers game at the Bell Centre, three days after the Florida Panthers announced that he had retired. “I feel that I can still play the real game. This is why I hope to play in Europe next season.”

Kovalev, 40, signed with Florida in January and had 2 goals and 5 points in 14 games. He said Sunday that the Panthers told him last month that he should no longer report to their games.

“I recognize that the Panthers gave me the chance to the return to the N.H.L., but it isn’t good that the terms of our retirement are dictated by someone else,” he said.

Kovalev played in the Kontinental League last season, posting 1-5-6 and a minus-13 in 22 games for Atlant Moscow Region.

*     *     *

The Saginaw Spirit finished 34 points behind the London Knights in the Ontario League’s Western Conference, going 1-3 in head-to-head competition during the regular season, but they almost even their first-round series last night thanks to a stellar effort in goal from Jake Paterson who made 67 saves in a 3-2 double-overtime loss.

The Spirit were outshot 70-43 in the game, including 39-17 in the third period and overtime. Goals by Justin Kea and Jimmy Lodge gave the Spirit a 2-0 after two periods, but the Knights stormed back thanks to two goal from Bo Horvat in the third frame, including the tying goal with one second remaining. Chris Tierney scored the winner 9:11 into the second overtime period to give the Knights a 2-0 series lead.

The Knights are looking to defend their OHL title while the Spirit are looking to get into the second round for the third straight season and fourth time in their 11-season history.

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