Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 09/19/07 at 05:59 PM ET
Jarome Iginla participated in an NHL tele-conference today…
Q. You how important is it for you to get a few road wins under your belt right off the bat this year?
JAROME IGINLA: Yeah, I think last year was really, you know, it was tough on us to be at home and have the home record that we had, one of the top ones in the league; and then to go on the road and have one of the worst ones in the league. And then, you know, looking at it we were looking for answers the whole time.
And you know, I don’t know if we pinned it down, but I think as a group of players, I think we can all admit that we obviously have to find a way to be better. But you know, it’s not just ?? we also realize it wasn’t just bad breaks and bounces and things. There’s a lot of things to improve on. So part of it is confidence, but also it will be getting grittier and a little bit more determined and all those things. It will be nice to get off to a good start and get some good confidence and not to have to hear about the road record all year.
Q. Well, I know you probably will get a lot of Mike Keenan questions over the course of the season. What’s your early read on Iron Mike?
JAROME IGINLA: Well, yeah, it’s pretty early but you know, his practice and his tempo, he definitely likes things quick, and you know, his first practice with us in training camp wasn’t too long. You know, for a first day, I think we were out there an hour or just under, which was great, but it was probably one of our hardest. He said things really quickly and there wasn’t much break between whistles and drills. I get the feeling he likes things very high tempo, and all of the practices, that’s what he’s been.
But it’s still early, and two preseason games, you know, obviously we haven’t got a win yet, so he’s not that thrilled, but you know, it’s pretty early as far as that. But you can tell there’s definitely an intensity there and that’s similar to Darryl and demands just subtle ?? you know, it’s early and all that, but you can tell, you know, we definitely want to get on the winning side quickly.
Q. Has he had the players do a little more extra conditioning in the summer?
JAROME IGINLA: Well, definitely one of the things that followed his reputation is demand for having guys in shape. We’ve been here for a long time and we’ve wanted to be in shape and all that, but definitely I’d say as a group we looked a little bit skinnier and a little thinner and probably took a little bit extra care of ourselves. Because we’re also reading comments and we saw once that he was interviewed and he made a point of saying that, you know, he doesn’t make a big deal out of too many things. He just doesn’t like if guys are not in shape and they have to ride the bike, guys he’d played with before. And that’s a huge part of it and I guess there’s a lot of truth to that that if you get stuck on the bike you’re not in shape. Most of us are probably in the best shape we’ve been on the team and a lot of credit goes to him.
Q. You’re closing in on 800 games in the NHL, but for me the time has flown by, does it feel like it’s gone by in a bit of a blur?
JAROME IGINLA:It really has. It’s hard to believe, you know, I turned 30 this summer and I remember when I broke into the league and I looked at guys who were 30, and I thought, you know, they have had a good career and they are just winding it down and it just felt ancient to me at the time.
Now I’m here and I hope I’m just halfway through my career. Yeah, it’s been unbelievable. It’s a great time but it’s also hard to believe, you know, for the first seven, missing the playoffs and you know, rebuilding as a group here, pretty excited about this next stretch that we’re in as a group.
And, you know, I believe the ownership and management are giving us a chance to be a top team and be competitive and the playoffs are so much fun. So it’s pretty hard to believe that for seven years that went on, but you know, it’s part of the growing pains is you definitely appreciate being in the playoffs more and having a chance at the Stanley Cup.
Q. One of your teammates, Matthew Lombardi led Canada in scoring at this year’s World Championship, and from what you’ve seen at training camp. What has that experience done for his confidence and approach to the game from previous years?
JAROME IGINLA: Well, I think it’s huge, as a teammate and a fan watching him, you could see his confidence just growing and growing and the game grow to another level playing on the world stage and with Gowan and Nash and having the success that they had.
He’s a guy that he works very hard, and he’s for sure one of the fastest guys in the league. I don’t know if there’s a guy who has more explosive speed than him and his crossovers to the net and taking the puck.
And his confidence has been growing. Last year he had a real good year for us. He had 20 goals and you know, 50 points and I think everybody, I think it’s just kind of a natural ?? as his teammates, I think we all know he’s going to do some great things in the league and be a big contributor offensively. His confidence year?in, year?out has been getting better, and I think this is going to be a huge year for him.
His challenging D?men with his speed, he was doing it more last year. And far as our fans go, he is probably one of most ?? him and (Kristian) Huselius are the two that probably get the most people on their feet when he gets in a groove. He’s exciting and he’s going to be a top player.
But he works very hard, too, and you could see he wants to be and to take it to a next level.
Q. I hear Mike Keenan is giving him a chance in your line with Alex Tanguay, how does his style of play compliment your game?
JAROME IGINLA: Yeah, I think whoever he plays with, he has such explosive speed that it puts D?men on their heels. But he can also ?? you know, he has a great shot. He’s capable of scoring goals and he can make plays.
So I think it’s just, you know, he has an all?around game; that whoever he plays with, I think he’s going to be a big point producer. You know, a guy like that, if he’s playing with Tangs, I can imagine him getting a lot of breakaways with Tangs, he’ll drive the D?men back. And if we play together as a group, maybe I can come late with that and have the option to him going; maybe I can find a few holes coming late and through the side and stuff. But no, I look forward to it. Yeah, I think, like I said, I think it’s going to be a huge year.
Q. Lombardi is being talked about as a player who could make a Martin St. Louis or Daniel Briere?type emergence. Besides consistency, what was missing in Matthew’s game last season from developing into that kind of a player?
JAROME IGINLA: I think confidence is the biggest part. I think we all as players, we all battled confidence at one time or another. You know, I know you want to start believing ?? you know, you want to start believing you can become an elite player. And I think the World Championships is going to be huge ?? was huge for him, playing on that stage with all of the top players and being on the top line and producing like that, helping Canada win goals I think is going to be huge.
Yeah, I think it’s just a confidence thing. I think it’s something that you look, he’s got the speed, the shots, he plays hard, he doesn’t shy away from anything, and I think it’s just that progression.
You know, he challenges D?men and I think all that in the past, getting 20 goals for the first time is all going to help and it just going to keep going up.
Q. Recently Vinny Lecavalier put you at the top of a list of players he most respects around the League and I was curious where he ranks for you and how you’ve seen him develop over the last little while to the player he’s become.
JAROME IGINLA: That’s nice of him to say it. Definitely I have a lot of respect for him, and a lot of it came from ?? I always knew he was a talented player and being first overall and those things. But when we played them in the Cup Finals, with him, Richards and St. Louis, we were trying ?? our team was more of a rugged team and we were trying to make it as hard on other players as possible and trying to be as physical, and, you know, hopefully possibly have some guys not want to play that way. And those guys, you know, in that series were amazing in the playoffs and stuff and they were able to play both ways.
You know, if you were able to knock Richards or St. Louis down, you know, they are right back up and in your face. And Vinny’s was so strong, they all say he’s a huge reason obviously why they won the Stanley Cup. But obviously gained a lot of respect in competing against them and with the talent they have; and getting a chance to play them in the World Cup and getting to know them personally and very good guys and team guys; and Vinny took to another level there.
You can see that you get to certain situations and they obviously love the competition and love competing and love that pressure. That’s why they, you know, they have won as many things as they have and still tough to take, though, they won the series wish that wasn’t the case, but definitely have a lot of respect for them. When you play them, they are very hard guys to stop, and they have their plays and they feed off each other so well and help each other out so well. They are fun guys to watch.
Q. When you say he took it to another level, what struck you particularly?
JAROME IGINLA: I think his competitiveness. He can play all different styles. He can play physical, he can play hard, he was hitting. You know, he was battling Chara, I remember at the World Cup. You know, anyone ?? I might be stretching it to say he knocked him down but he definitely knocked him back. And anyone who could even put Chara off his feet for a second, those are two big, huge guys going at it.
So I think it was mostly that he can play any way. He can play physical, he’s not shy to fight, and obviously he can score goals. He has that flair for some of the nice goals, too. Yeah he’s just willing to play any way and loves to compete.
Q. Does he remind you of any other player?
JAROME IGINLA: Let me just think. Well, I think ?? you know, I think guys, Joe Thornton has his size; they have size together and they are very solid and strong. Obviously Joe is more of a passer. Vinny is probably more of a shooter. But both of them love to compete.
I think if you look at it, Mario would be ?? when you get a chance to watch Mario over the years and then get a chance to play with him and see how he competes and his reach and the strength; I don’t know if enough people ?? I didn’t realize how strong and how fast he was when he wanted to be. Obviously one of the top few to ever play. But definitely some similar styles there.
Q. Do you have any views on the slight alterations in interference calls to add majors and penalty shots, in terms of the interference, does that not induce more hacking by players?
JAROME IGINLA: Well, I like the change because I think a guy can get away with a pretty good cheap shot. You know, coming across the blue line and acting just like he ran into him, and it would be a full hit kind of blind siding a guy, and it would be just an interference penalty and it would be just more accidental I guess they would say.
You know, I think the refs are going to have to watch them, but I do like them having that ability to make that call because there are definitely a few cheap shots that have gone and guys do get hurt where it just interference, you know what I mean, but it’s severe interference.
Sorry, what was the other?
Q. Penalty shot expanding into the neutral zone. I guess you haven’t seen much of that yet.
JAROME IGINLA: No, I haven’t. But I think that’s another one I would agree with, too, because there’s times I think there should be some discretion, and where if (Eric) Godard or Lombardi are away at their blue line and they are already three steps ahead and they are just inside ?? they are on this side of the red line, no one is going to catch them, you know what I mean. So if you take them down there with just two minutes, if you just slide and hack them down where they were playing breakaway anyway; I do like that.
Also with the referees, I’m guessing you won’t probably see a lot of major interference but it will just keep us as players on our edge to know that it is there and it will be dealt with seriously like the others just to guard players’ heads a little bit more. Because a lot of those, you could clip a guy’s head and come across a blue line and it would be interference. So I think those are good.
Q. The other question I had was: Is there any rookies you’re noticing that might make a name for themselves coming into the LEAGUE? Have you had time to see any?
JAROME IGINLA: Yeah, we just played the one, the one preseason game, and I was having a hard enough time keeping up and I didn’t get a chance to watch too much.
But no, it’s kind of nice to see the highlights back on TV and stuff. So I will be following that more and then with the more games coming up.
Q. Yesterday the Board of Governors were indicating that they might alter the schedule so you’re not playing ate games against your own division and maybe go down to seven or six so a team could play every other team in the league. Did you like the eight games against each team in your division, or would you prefer playing every team in the league?
JAROME IGINLA: Well, I thought I would when I first heard the schedule, getting a chance to play Edmonton that many times in Vancouver; those are two of our biggest rivals and the most intense games and the fans get into it.
After going through it for a couple of years and stuff, I would be more of a fan of going back to the six or seven. I think you like to visit different cities, rinks, get a chance to play in front of different fans, but also a chance to see other players.
You know, for our fans and also as a player to get a chance to compete against Crosby or Ovechkin more than once, I guess it is every three years, and some of the other top teams where you would like to see how you rate up against them and defensemen and things like that.
So I would really definitely be for going back to the six or seven times and finding a way to get other team, whether it’s home or away, I would really be in favor of that.
Q. Did you feel that the rivalry was much more intense, or do you think you would still get that with six or seven? And if you are visiting every other team, the travel will go up; is that a consideration at all?
JAROME IGINLA: Well, I think that the ?? I’m not sure that the rivalry went up. I think it probably stayed the same. You know, when we play Vancouver or Edmonton, the games are very important and everything, but I’m not sure that it did go up. So I definitely would like to go back to the other way.
As far as travel, I didn’t find it that much different. I haven’t heard from the guys really on our team that have found it ?? most guys I’ve talked to would like to go back to the other schedule or a different schedule where you get to see every team, most players that I’ve talked to. I think it would be worth it on the travel part for the upside of getting around the league and seeing the different players and teams and getting a chance to play other guys.
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