For 15 seasons, Jarome Iginla has been the face of the Calgary Flames.
While some pundits and bloggers suggest Iginla should be traded to a contender for a better chance at hoisting the Stanley Cup late in his career (see: Bourque, Ray), the classy left wing continues to be a bright spot on a team that has done little to warm the Alberta winters in recent seasons.
Last Saturday, Iginla scored the 500th goal of his stellar career, with a double-carom tally that went off the skate of a defenseman, and off the skate of Wild center Mikko Koivu, before finding the back of the net.
It took Iginla a few seconds to know the goal was his.
“(Curtis Glencross) was the one who told me,” he said while flashing his trademark smile. “I was trying just to center it for (Jay Bouwmeester) and Glennie going to the net, and Glennie told me I got it. I didn’t know. I thought one of them maybe got it. I’ll take it.”
Iginla is the 42nd player to hit the milestone and 15th to do it while playing for just one franchise.
“It’s almost like it was meant to be; meant to be back at the Saddledome where he’s been his whole career with the Calgary Flames, in front of his home fans, family,” said injured forward Brendan Morrison, who recently netted his 200th career goal. “We win the game and it’s the game-winner. It doesn’t get any better.”
Earlier in the period, a power-play slapshot by No. 12 clanged off a pipe.
That would have been more typical of a goal seen by a player who has twice tallied 50 goals, been a 40-goal scorer four times and has scored at least 30 goals in 10 straight seasons. He’s proven to be a goal scorer no matter whom he has been paired with, be it Alex Tanguay, Mike Cammalleri, Craig Conroy or Daymond Langkow, to name a few.
“I feel like I’m a little part of history,” said Conroy, who assisted on 85 Iginla goals, and is now a special assistant to general manager Jay Feaster. “We had three years where we were really rolling together. He won the Rocket Richard twice when we played together. For me, it was a huge boost to my career. I couldn’t have gotten in any better situation than playing with Jarome to kind of go from being a third-line checker to playing on the top line. It was always fun.”
The Flames won the game 3-1, something Calgary needed after a 2-5 road trip ended with a 9-0 thud two nights earlier in Boston.
True to his team-first, humble attitude, Iginla was almost happier his team got the win and glad the milestone chase was over.
“It’s special to get, but we need to win some games and stuff. I didn’t want it to be a distraction or keep thinking about it,” he said. “It’s nice to get it, but also not to be at 499 and it keep being talked about.”
Lance Bouma scored his first career tally to open the scoring. It was his first game with the parent club this season.
“Every player remembers their first goal,” said Iginla, whose first goal was in Vancouver against goalie Kirk McLean. “I got a pass from Corey Millen. It was a two-on-one and I was just driving to the far post and he gave me a tap in. . . . You do want to score your first goal pretty badly and experience that feeling. You don’t know when it’s going to come so that was pretty cool.”
Added coach Brent Sutter: “You see a guy that scored his 500th goal and a guy who scored his first NHL goal. That’s got a neat story to it. It’s a tremendous accomplishment.”