Welcome to the Game Day Fire Drill, for this, Calgary’s 58th game of the season on Feb. 5, 2010.
It’s Jarome Iginla’s 1,000th game and that’s kind of a big deal.
Kinda difficult to put into words just what he has meant to Calgary the franchise and Calgary the city.
He’s got a closetful of awards. A pair of Rocket Richards, an Art Ross, a King Clancy, probably a bunch of others from the Flames themselves — and there might even be a place for a richly-deserved but unwon Hart in that closet. He has more goals and points than any Flame in the franchise’s 37-year history. He was often the only reason to watch a game in that run of seven years without a playoff appearance. He’s seen the team go through eight coaches in his 13 years and he’s always been more or less the same player.
And really, he’s everything you’d want a hockey player to be. Overwhelmingly talented, tough, mean when he needs to be, fearless, full of leadership, unselfish. Plus he’s the standup-est of guys in a sport full of them. Never visibly unhappy off the ice, always has time for the fans, always exudes class. The stories around Calgary and really the whole of the hockey world about how Iginla has gone unnecessarily far out of his way to do things for the fans (most famously buying an entire family hotel accommodations at the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002 when he found out they’d come down from Canada and were sleeping in their car).
And he’s done everything with the Flames. He was already the career leader in all-time games played for the team, but now he’s so far outstripped anyone else (tonight puts him an even 170 ahead of Al MacInnis) that it’s hard to imagine anyone ever catching him. Man, 1,000 games. That’s a long, long time.
There are plenty of reasons for opposing fans to dislike the Flames, but Jarome Iginla sure isn’t one of them.
It’d be nice to see the Flames pull one out for the guy tonight.
The Calgary Flames (28-21-8 for 64 points. Tied for eighth in the West, third in the Northwest) and the Florida Panthers (24-23-9 for 57 points. Tied for ninth in the East, third in the Southeast).
5:30 p.m. Mountain time and 7:30 p.m. Eastern time. All other time zones should have a legendary food fight.
BankAtlantic Center, Sunrise, Florida.
Calgary is 14-8-5 on the road this year, but have lost four straight road games. The Panthers are 12-9-6 at home, but haven’t beaten a Western Conference opponent since Dec. 2.
What (to hate about the Panthers)
Tomas Vokoun — Lights-out goaltending. He has allowed 10 goals in his last eight games.
Bryan McCabe — Former Leaf. Crybaby. Awful at defense.
Their fans — Get it because they don’t have any.
Because it’s Iggy’s big day. Enjoy the game and send your congrats in the comments section.