This article was originally published in March, 2013.
Iginla was shipped out by General Manager Jay Feaster last night to the Pittsburgh Penguins in return for college prospects Ben Hanowski and Ken Agostino as well as a first round pick. Last nights’ proceedings certainly became clustered once the Flames publically announced that Iginla would be a healthy scratch for that evening’s game against the Colorado Avalanche, ending his consecutive games streak at 441. As fans chanted “Iggy, Iggy” at their captain-less team like a mourning widow during the game, rumours of Boston began to percolate and were even officially reported. It wasn’t until Jay Feaster manned the podium in the bowels of the Saddledome for a post-game press conference that it was revealed Iginla was headed to Pittsburgh, creating a firestorm of emotion amongst the fan base and media.
Jarome Iginla is gone. The most beloved and storied player the franchise has ever seen will be suiting up in the Eastern Conference, far away from the Canadian West where he was born, played his junior career, and plied his professional trade. While the city of Calgary will assuredly be throwing their weight behind Iginla and collectively cheer on the Pittsburgh Penguins this upcoming playoffs, it will be with a bitter sweet heart.
The following are just some of the many wonderful memories Jarome Iginla has brought to Flames fans, as it would truly be impossible and unjust to compact them into one post. Jarome Iginla was and will always be the face of the Calgary Flames, and as a Calgarian myself I would like to thank Iginla for… well, everything he did.
Iginla’s 2001-2002 Season
This season was the true coming out party for Jarome Iginla. Calgary was still mired in the most futile era of the franchise’s existence and was entering the season on a five year playoff drought. They were not selling out games, as is the contemporary norm, and were seemingly directionless. Iginla would explode, going from 31 goals the previous season to 52 and from 71 points to 96. Both of these totals led the league, earning Iginla his first Maurice Richard trophy and his only Art Ross to date.
He also won the Lester B. Pearson trophy (since renamed the Ted Lindsay trophy) as the Most Valuable Player as voted by the NHLPA. While the Flames failed to make the playoffs, some solace was found when Iginla served as a late replacement on the Canadian Olympic team in Salt Lake City. He quickly formed Canada’s most potent trio along with Joe Sakic and Simon Gagne, scoring twice in the final against the United States to secure Canada’s first gold in Olympic hockey in 50 years.
Iginla’s 2003-2004 Season and Stanley Cup Playoff Run
Iginla once again captured the Maurice Rocket Richard trophy, tying for the league lead in goals with Rick Nash and Ilya Kovalchuk with 41. This effort, combined with the stellar play of a then relatively unknown goaltending acquisition named Miikka Kiprusoff, culminated in the Flames earning their first playoff berth in 7 years. What followed was perhaps the most spectacular Cinderella run to the Stanley Cup Finals, as the Flames mowed through Vancouver, Detroit, and San Jose- all of which had won their respective divisions. While Martin Gelinas provided the series winning goal in every deciding game that went the Flames way, Jarome Iginla certainly carried the load in extremely important games.
The first of which was Iginla’s performance in Game 7 of the Quarter Finals against the Canucks, as Iginla relentlessly pursued a puck to open the scoring on the heavily favoured rivals from BC. His uncharacteristic double fist pump after the goal gave a palpable message, even through the television screen- Jarome Iginla was not going to lose. He would go on to score Calgary’s second goal in that game as well, leaving the heroics to Martin Gelinas to seal it in overtime.
The second came in the Stanley Cup showdown with the Tampa Bay Lightning, during Game 3 which was also the first of the series to take place in Calgary. Battling hard along the boards with Tampa star Vincent Lecavalier, Iginla found himself being challenged to a fight by the eager Bolt. Fights in the playoffs are seldom, fights in the Stanley Cup finals are incredibly rare, and fights between superstars in the Stanley Cup Finals is absolutely unheard of. It made for great drama and infused the series with raw emotion and hate. Even almost a decade later, it is still discussed as one of the great moments in Flames history.
The final showcase of just what Jarome Iginla did during this Stanley Cup run is his performance during overtime of Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals in Tampa Bay. Affectionately known in Calgary as “The Shift”, Iginla loses his helmet during the frenetic, up-tempo play but keeps on the puck with dogged persistence. Looking like a revered relic from hockey’s helmet-less halcyon days of Maurice Richards and Bobby Hulls, Iginla refused to quit the entire shift- making beautiful passes, fighting for possession in the corners and along the boards, and trying to jam the puck in. While doing the heavy lifting, Oleg Saprykin was able to clean up Iginla’s garbage and pot the winner past a prone Nikolai Khabibulin, sending Calgary home for Game 6 with a 3-2 series lead. Unfortunately, this would be their last victory that magical spring.
2010 Winter Olympics: Iginla Assists the Golden Goal
It had never been done before. If Canada could win a gold medal over the United States on the final day of Olympic competition, they would set a Winter Olympics record for gold medals won by a host nation with 14. With the game tied at 2 and destined for overtime thanks to a last-minute tally by Zach Parise, the entire country was transfixed. Then, with Iginla battling along the half board during overtime, Sidney Crosby called what became known as “the Iggy heard around the world” and Iginla dished the puck to him. Crosby promptly slid it between Ryan Miller’s star-spangled legs, and it was over. Chris Cuthbert’s momentous call of “Sidney Crosby! The Golden Goal!” has become the “Henderson has scored for Canada!” for an entire generation of Canadians, and it all started with a desperate plea of “Iggy.” This would be Iginla’s second Olympic gold medal.
Trevor Linden’s Last Game- April 5th, 2008
With the Flames headed to the playoffs and the Canucks set to miss, the final game of the season for both teams at GM Place in Vancouver featured two storylines: Trevor Linden’s final game and Jarome Iginla’s quest for his second 50-goal campaign. With the game’s results ultimately irrelevant, it was an affair that should be categorized as an exemplary model of sportsmanship. Not only did Iginla receive an ovation from the Canucks faithful when he potted his 50th, but he led a parade of Flames post game to congratulate Trevor Linden on his career. The media was able to capture Linden leaning into Iginla’s ear to tell him that he “is the best player in the game.” A tremendous show of class by both Vancouver and the Iginla led Flames. After the game, Iginla was nothing but humble when asked about what Linden had said to him.
Class, humility, grit, integrity, scoring ability, and leadership. That is exactly what Jarome Iginla is and that is exactly what the Pittsburgh Penguins got.