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Iginla rooting for Crosby's return, too

CALGARY, Alberta -- Sidney Crosby and Jarome Iginla rarely see each other because their teams meet just once a season• separated by more than 2,000 miles.

They share a connection, though, that doesn't require much interaction.

The Calgary Flames' captain set up Crosby's "golden goal" for Team Canada at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, and from that point on, two of the game's giants understood each other on a unique level.

"I don't see him very often and haven't talked with him much since the Olympics," Iginla said Friday. "But that bond is always there."

Iginla, one of hockey's most popular people and a cinch to make the Hockey Hall of Fame, said he valued his time with Crosby during the Olympics. Crosby said he feels the same way.

"To have a chance to play with him and to be together on that goal," Crosby said, "was pretty special."

During the two-week tournament, Iginla and Crosby realized they weren't only terrific linemates but also friends. Both quiet leaders, they became allies in a locker room filled with star players and dominant personalities.

"I was happy to have a chance to play with him, and obviously he's a great player," Iginla said. "But, you know, I also found that we got along really well. I like him. He handles everything in his life so well. It was nice to get to know him a little bit."

Crosby's goal is one of the most significant moments in Canadian sports history. T-shirts can be purchased here that simply read "Iggy" -- what Crosby yelled before Iginla made the pass that set up his winner, beating U.S. goalie Ryan Miller.

"You share that moment with everyone," Crosby said. "It's special. You always like to catch up with guys when you get a chance. It will be nice (to see Iginla)."

Crosby's Western Canada tour rolled on yesterday, arriving in Calgary after a visit to Vancouver on Thursday and a trek to Edmonton coming Sunday. Although he hasn't been cleared for contact, Crosby's appearance in this part of the country remains major news. And his friend in the adjacent locker room has been monitoring his health, just like everyone else has.

"It's hard to see," Iginla said. "I know how good he is for hockey."

Iginla is a legend in Calgary, but he realizes Flames fans won't get to see him for two more seasons.

"Even though he lit us up last year," he said, "I know our fans want to see him play. I hope he's back soon. But at the same time, I want him back when he's 100 percent. He's still so young. He's got many, many great years ahead of him."

Crosby appreciated the kind words and intends on catching up with Iginla before tonight's game.

"It's a compliment," he said. "It means a lot coming from him."

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