CALGARY - If Alex Tanguay was thrilled by the prospect of the Calgary Flames turning the page, it was hard to tell.
A long-faced Tanguay explained post-game to reporters how much Jarome Iginla means to him.
“He’s been a superstar in this league,” said Tanguay after the team’s 4-3 win Wednesday over the Colorado Avalanche in National Hockey League action at the Scotiabank Saddledome. “He’s going to be a Hall of Famer. It’s been a privilege playing with him. He’s a role model.
“The kids that have grown up in this city the last 15 years, for most of them Jarome Iginla is their idol. It’s sad to see it come to this day, but it’s the business we’re in. I guess there’s not much we can do.”
Traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins, Iginla had been a healthy scratch Wednesday. The Flames captain wasn’t in the building for the game, although his dressing-room stall still contained his gear. Odd times.
“It’s an eyeopener, a bit,” said Mark Giordano. “As players, any time you see a friend and a teammate going through anything like that, you feel responsible. You feel a part of it. We tried to emphasize hard work tonight and get a win. It’s our captain. One of the best players that’s played the game. He’s been here his whole career. I think it was a little bit surreal. Different. But I thought we did a good job and played hard. That’s all we were asking of each other. And, for Iggy. A friend and a good teammate for a long time.”
“I wish him nothing but the best,” said Tanguay, who orchestrated many of Iginla’s goals over the years. “He deserves what he wants and I hope that everything plays out for the best for him.
“He’s a friend. When I struggled the one year (2009-10) in Tampa, I know that he push real hard to bring me (back). We’ve had some great years together. It’s been a privilege playing with him. What a player. What a person. I mean, what can I say? I wish him nothing but the best and I hope he’s going to go where he wants and that things are going to play out for him. We all know what he’s chasing.”
But what about on the ice?
Iginla hadn’t missed a night since Game 82 of the 2006-07 season. Till Wednesday.
“Before the game, personally, I was sad,” said Tanguay. “It’s tough circumstances. We’re professional. We know what we come here to do. Even though he’s not around, we still have a job to do. We’re going to try to make the best of it, but it is what it is.
“We kind of assumed what was happening. I’m just very glad and very thankful that his last game here in Calgary for the Flames ended up turning out that way.”
Sunday against the St. Louis Blues, Iginla had provided the game-winning goal in the third period — the 83rd of his career — and the rink erupted.
“It’s probably the loudest the building has been when he went down the ice and scored that goal. It was great,” said Tanguay. “He deserved it. Even tonight, we heard some “Iggy!” (chants) in the crowd. It’s well-deserved.”
Added Giordano: “Oh, it was cool. A nice gesture by the fans. There’s no doubt what he means to the fans, the organization, and the city. Obviously, a different kind of night. A little bit weird. But hopefully everything works out.”
Now, though, Iginla will be tugging on another jersey.
An odd sight, to be sure.
“It’ll be different,” said Tanguay. “He’s one of those guys . . . I played with Joe Sakic early in my career and I always saw Jarome as kind of the same way, face of the franchise. I never really thought that he was going to . . . go anywhere. But it’s a business. You don’t know what’s going to happen. And with the (lack of) success that this team has had, I think that chances were meant to happen. Unfortunate, but it is part of the business.”
OK. Well put — but now what?
“Well, we’ve just got to go out and be ourselves,” said Tanguay. “We’ve still got great veterans here, great leadership. We don’t think that we’re not going to miss him on the ice as a player and in the dressing room. But we’re professional. We know what the task at hand is. For us to get back into this (Western Conference playoff race), we’re going to need to string four or five or six (wins) together. We can’t look anywhere else than to the guys in here.”
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