Jarome Iginla may hold out: report

Jarome Iginla is contemplating a holdout after Craig Button's holiday held up contract talks.

Iginla, a 25-year-old restricted free agent, will not report to training camp unless he has a new contract in hand from the Calgary Flames.

"I don't think I could," he told the Calgary Sun.

"That's fair," responded Button, the Flames general manager, upon his return from summer vacation.

"That's an individual choice for a player."

Calgary has reportedly offered a two-year contract worth $11 million US, but Iginla is supposedly seeking $7.5 million US annually after earning $1.7 million US last season.

"It just keeps us focused in on concluding a deal," Button said, mindful that camp gets underway September 14 at Banff, Alta.

"We want him to be there the first day of camp."

Calgary has little leverage however, because Iginla is coming off a career year and determined to cash in.

Iginla was presented with the Maurice (Rocket) Richard Trophy for his league-high 52 goals as well as the Art Ross Trophy for his league-leading 96 points at the NHL Awards on June 20.

The Edmonton native received the NHLPA Lester B. Pearson Award, too, awarded annually to the league's most valuable player as voted by his peers.

Iginla capped his breakthrough season by scoring twice in Canada's 5-2 gold-medal win over the United States at the Salt Lake Olympic Winter Games.

Not surprisingly, he intends to be compensated handsomely for his efforts.

Iginla found himself at a similar impasse with the Flames three years ago.

Back then, he was coming off a 28-goal, 51-point campaign in which he was paid $850,000 US plus bonuses.

Iginla tried to hasten negotiations by purchasing personal insurance and attending camp without a contract, but opted to hold out once pre-season games commenced.

"I don't know if helped," said Iginla, who wound up signing a three-year, $5-million US contract two games into the 1999-2000 campaign.

"It doesn't really speed things up. It was just distracting the other guys."

Just imagine the media circus this time around.

"I don't know the circumstances surrounding (1999)," Button said. "But we sent out letters to all the players, including him, and we want him to come, too."

Iginla came to Calgary with Corey Millen in a trade for Joe Nieuwendyk on Dec. 19, 1995, six months after being drafted 11th overall by the Dallas Stars.

All toll, he has 174 goals and 189 assists for 363 points in 470 NHL games, all with the Flames.

with files from Canadian Press