Ask anyone around the Boston Bruins about how Jarome Iginla has fit into the team both on and off the ice and the common thread is that it was a perfect fit right from the start. It’s almost as if despite being a Calgary Flame for 15 plus seasons, this future hall of famer was meant to throw on the spoked ‘B’ at some point in his career. How else to explain how he ended up a Bruin? After nixing a trade that would have sent him to Boston from Calgary prior to the 2013 NHL trade deadline and going to the Penguins, Iginla and his new team at the time were swept by the Bruins in the Eastern Conference Finals. But the interest and draw to play in Boston never wavered—and in fact grew stronger—as Iginla and his agent reached out to Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli just prior to July 1 and the longtime Flame became a Bruin when free agency opened, signing a one-year deal with a base salary of $1.8 million and incentives of $4.2 million for an annual salary-cap figure of $6 million.
Now as the Bruins prepare for what they hope is their third trip to the Stanley Cup finals in the last five years, Iginla is enjoying a career renaissance after spending the last few seasons with a Flames team mired in mediocrity. He has reached many of the incentives in his contract by reaching the 30-goal plateau for the 11th time in his last 12 seasons and has 61 points in 75 games. He had 13 goals in the month of March including four two-goal games in his last nine games. His physical and passionate brand of hockey embodies what the Bruins pride themselves on and for the core of this current Bruins squad, Iginla has been a joy to play with.
“Yeah I don’t know, it’s weird how that turned out but he’s here and the transition for him and us has been seamless from the start,” veteran forward and one of the more prominent leaders in the dressing room Shawn Thornton told Murph’s Musings recently. “He’s been awesome on and off the ice … even more off if ya can say that with the year he’s having and just a great guy. He’s obviously on the way to the hall of fame with all he’s done. It’s a treat when you get to know those guys so it’s just been an honor to play with him and be around him.”
The Bruins and Iginla have reportedly made it clear to each other that they would like to re-up in the offseason when Iginla becomes a unrestricted free agent again.
“He’s been terrific for us,” Chiarelli told the Boston Herald. “He’s a veteran guy, he plays our brand of hockey and he fits in seamlessly with that first line. He’s been everything we thought he’d be — everything and more. I know ‘Looch’ (Milan Lucic) and ‘Krech’ (David Krejci) look up to him. There’s a good synergy on that line.”
One veteran NHL executive said that veteran leadership is key to a team’s Cup chances and likened it to how another key Chiarelli acquisition eventually helped Boston win the Stanley Cup in 2011.
“You look at what Mark Recchi did for them and how it culminated in a championship and I see that with Iginla,” he said. “You can never have too many leaders in a dressing room. They all know that [Zdeno] Chara is the captain and they have established leaders already. But with Iginla, he is probably happy to not be the superstar and vocal leader he had to be in Calgary for so many years and just lead by example. I’m sure he speaks up but when you have the younger players seeing what he’s doing at 36 years old, you can’t put a price tag on that. That’s just going to make them even better than they are. And God help their opponents in the playoffs! He hasn’t been there since 2009 and he is going to be revved up!”