Hall: Logic says Iginla deal is just a matter of when
It doesn’t makes any sense for the Flames to keep their captain and risk lose him for nothing
Jarome Iginla could have bolted to a massive American metropolis years ago in search of the limelight, in search of stardom and sponsorship dollars not possible in a (relatively) small Canadian market.
Jarome Iginla could have bolted to any number of destinations years ago in search of a legitimate No. 1 centre to pass him the puck and pad his already gaudy offensive numbers. After all, the captain tasted life at the Olympics playing with the likes of Joe Sakic and Sidney Crosby. So he knew exactly what he was missing.
But still the transplanted Edmontonian stayed, and his wide smile became every bit as synonymous with Calgary as the ski jumps at Canada Olympic Park, the Rocky Mountains to the west or even the tower itself.
Many American cities pipe words of welcome from the local mayor into the arrivals area at the airport. Calgary could ask Iginla to do the honours at YYC, and no one would blink.
The face of the franchise? Undoubtedly. The face of a city? Hardly a stretch.
But after 16 seasons of toil as a Flame, the time has finally come for Iginla to bid farewell to the only team he has ever known in search of the only thing missing on his Hall of Fame resume.
The Stanley Cup.
Sure, Calgarians love him. And sure, they’ll grieve his departure should general manager Jay Feaster pull the trigger on or before the April 3 trade deadline.
In a quote often attributed to the esteemed Dr. Seuss, don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.
Feeling pained over the pending exit of arguably the best player to ever wear the flaming C? Well, close your eyes and picture Iginla hoisting the Stanley Cup — even in a different coloured jersey. How does that resonate deep inside?
We thought so.
Fact is, Iginla’s contract expires this summer. Fact is, the Flames have just 7.4 per cent chance of qualifying for the playoffs this year, according to sportsclubstats.com. Fact is, the Flames are the oldest team in the league, and one of the smallest to boot.
If Iginla wants to win a Stanley Cup, Calgary just isn’t the place.
Just imagine the public reaction in these parts if the Flames allow the face of the franchise to walk away this summer with nothing to show for him. Truth of the matter is, they have already waited too long to maximize their return.
So the club has motivation to make a deal. And so, too, does Iginla. For as much as people in these parts want to immortalize him, the captain is in fact human. Time waits for nobody.
At 35, he no longer shakes off defenders at will. The sight of Iginla barrelling down the right wing and roofing a slapper is becoming increasingly rare. He often takes the worst of collisions as opposed to annihilating anyone who dares enter his personal space.
And still, Iginla has stood the test of time, leading the Flames in scoring for an NHL-record 11 straight seasons. The captain in large part carried the Flames to Game 7 of the 2004 Stanley Cup Final. He represented Canada three times at the Olympics, winning gold twice and famously answering the call of “Iggy” from Crosby in overtime of the final at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver.
For his part, Iginla appears ready and willing to say goodbye. According to various media reports, his list of approved destinations — and the captain has a no-movement clause, so he must sign off for any trade to become a reality — includes Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles Pittsburgh.
On a mediocre Flames team this season, Iginla has nine goals and 13 assists for 22 points in 30 games. Hardly eye-popping numbers, but decent. And in a new setting, on a playoff-bound team, Iginla is bound to be invigorated in pursuit of that elusive Cup.
Will he actually net the Flames the rumoured asking price of two prospects and a first-round pick? Hard to fathom, but it’s difficult to put a price on a legend.
Even an aging legend.
If Iginla has indeed played his last game in Calgary, the captain went out in style Sunday night by popping the game-winning goal in a 3-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues. His good buddy, Alex Tanguay, threw him a blind breakaway pass and Iginla darted up ice. Hot in pursuit, Wade Redden knocked the puck away, but the captain recovered and crammed a sharp-angled shot into the net.
The crowd roared.
“You know it’s not easy being in a situation where you’re hearing all of that,” centre Michael Cammalleri said of the flurry of trade rumours swirling around his captain. “As much as you want to turn it off and focus on playing, it can’t be easy. Sometimes, when distractions set in, it’s hard to just play.
“Nice for him to score a big goal — a big goal for us, a big goal to win the game, a timely goal for us.
“Just all the stuff you expect out of Jarome Iginla.”
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