Ask almost anyone in Calgary or around the NHL and they’ll tell you the Calgary Flames waited at least a year too long before trading Jarome Iginla.

Ask Iginla and he has a radically different take.

“I don’t think I waited too long at all,” Iginla told the Calgary Sun days ahead of his emotional return to the Dome Tuesday.

“I look back and I honestly try not to live and wonder ‘what if I did this or that?’ I don’t think to myself, ‘wow, I waited too long and things are great now.’ The last couple years were probably tough but it was the right time from my point of view.”

After years of insisting he wanted to finish his career in Calgary and win a Cup here, Iginla said the first discussion he had with management about the possibility of being traded came at the beginning of last season with GM Jay Feaster.

“He had discussed with me at the beginning of the year — the lockout year — that if it was a tough start around trade deadline we may have to go down that (trade) road,” said Iginla, 36, who was entering the fifth and final year of a contract paying him US$7 million annually.

“But I was well aware of that. My head wasn’t in the sand.

“It was a hard year, same as the year before. I wanted us to be successful, ultimately win and not have to move on. But the whole time, I’m like, ‘if we are in the playoffs, maybe I’m not moving.’ We’d win a few games and I’d think, ‘I might stay.’ There were a lot of ups and downs and fear of the unknown because I felt fortunate to have played there as long as I had.”

Flames fans also felt fortunate their captain had lived out the first 17 years of his Hall of Fame career in front of them, but given how bad the team had been since its last playoff appearance in 2009, the overwhelming majority of locals wanted a massive rebuild to start.