Flames fans have enjoyed an incredible season thus far and it sets up for the team’s best chance for a deep playoff run since 2004. And yet, when all is said and done, Saturday, March 2 might be the most memorable night of the year, and it’ll have nothing to do with the team’s on-ice exploits.
Jarome Iginla’s jersey gets retired Saturday night and I’ve got my top five Iggy moments right here.
5. THE BOSTON RETURN
We all got duped on Iginla’s initial trade destination and he was on a different team when he made his first of seven appearances at the Saddledome as a visitor. The night was Dec. 10, 2013 and Iginla was about two months into his career with the team we all thought he was going to a few months prior. The game happened and the Bruins beat an outmatched Flames team 2-1, but that was all immaterial.
Instead it was all about before and after. Despite not recording a point, Iginla was named the third star and the result was the awesome moment above. Prior to the game, no one cared about anything other than chanting “Iggy, Iggy, Iggy”. Oh, and we got the ridiculous Dancing Iginla song, which completed a pretty perfect night.
4. THE TRADE
March 27, 2013 was a surreal night for most Flames fans. Does anyone even remember who Calgary played, let alone the score or how the game went? When Iginla was announced as a healthy scratch an hour before puck drop, you’re excused from answering “no” to all of the above. To refresh, the Flames played one of their best games of the season, Mike Cammalleri scored twice, and they beat the Colorado Avalanche 4-3. But that was all just the undercard for the main event later on.
It was after 11:30 p.m. Calgary time when general manager Jay Feaster finally hit the podium and shocked many with the revelation Iginla had been traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Remember, we all thought he was destined for Boston originally, so Pittsburgh was a WWE-style swerve.
Unfortunately, the return for Iginla was underwhelming at the time and is even more so six years later. Ben Hanowski played his only 16 NHL games with the Flames, while Kenny Agostino played 10 of his 67 with Calgary. Finally, first round pick Morgan Klimchuk is still stuck on one NHL appearance and is no longer with the organization.
3. THE MILESTONES
I’ve exercised a little creative license to make sure we get this down to a tidy “top five” list, so come at me bro. Iginla hit a pair of milestones in a span of less than a year, so I thought it would be okay to combine. We’ll start with the one above, as Iginla’s 1,000th career point ended up being the game-winning goal in a 3-2 win over the St. Louis Blues. It was vintage Iginla and kept the team’s slim playoff hopes alive a little longer.
Less than a year later, on Jan. 7, 2012, Iginla would become the 42nd player in NHL history to reach 500 career goals in a 3-1 win over the Minnesota Wild. I’ll remember two things vividly from that night. First, how Peter Maher made Iginla’s 500th sound like a million bucks despite it being a complete laugher on Niklas Backstrom; hell, I didn’t even know if he scored it, but that’s why Maher is in the Hall of Fame!
Second, the timing of the game was memorable, too. Calgary’s home win over Minnesota came after one of the most demoralizing losses of Iginla’s career; just two nights earlier the Flames were embarrassed 9-0 in Boston. Iginla’s 500th helped heal those wounds pretty quickly.
2. THE OLYMPICS
Yeah Sidney Crosby scored perhaps the most famous goal in Canadian/Olympic hockey history… but that pass from Iginla, though. Like, go watch that thing! He’s got Ryan Suter all over him and still has the presence of mind to feed Crosby on the backhand. No wonder Ryan Miller was completely surprised by Crosby’s shot… how did the puck even get on his stick?!?
But 2010 wasn’t Iginla’s only resounding Gold Medal Game performance. Eight years prior, Iginla scored twice and added an assist in Canada’s 5-2 win over the United States in Salt Lake City. Iginla’s first period goal gave Canada their first lead, while his third period marker extended that lead to two for the first time. I know the guy never won a Stanley Cup, but man, he sure knew how to show up when it mattered most.
1. THE 2004 RUN
So, I’ve included “The Shift” from game five of the Stanley Cup Finals as the video piece here, but Iginla’s 2004 playoff performance was so much more than one shift, game, or series. Think of all this guy did to get Calgary within a couple shots of a 16th postseason win. When you start to reflect, it goes down as one of the most legendary individual playoff performances I can remember.
He fought Matthias Ohlund, Derian Hatcher, and Vincent Lecavalier. He had “The Shift” against the Lightning. What about two goals against the Canucks in game seven? He was the face of the team that put together one of the most stunning runs to game seven of a Cup Final in recent memory. That has to be number one.