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Photo Credit: Candice Ward/USA Today Sports

Jarome Iginla finds his way into the Hall of Fame

Jarome Iginla had it all planned out.

Having arrived in his summer home in Kelowna weeks prior and passed through the 14 day quarantine, he was set for his potential call to the Hockey Hall of Fame. Family members gathered in anticipation for the event.

Except there was some miscommunication about timing, and Lanny McDonald called him as he was in his car running errands.

In a way, it’s almost fitting that the induction call was relatively low key for a player who relished performing on the big stages yet shied away from big talk or pronouncements. And it’s incredibly fitting that the greatest player in Calgary Flames history received the call from McDonald, the first Flames player to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame.

Iginla is joined in the Class of 2020 by fellow players Marian Hossa, Kevin Lowe, Kim St. Pierre and Doug Wilson and builder Ken Holland.

Iginla’s importance to hockey in Calgary and Canada is well-tilled ground. He’s the Flames all-time leading scorer, his 1,095 points sitting 265 ahead of Theo Fleury. He was a crucial part of Canada’s Olympic gold medal wins in 2002 and 2010, with his pass to Sidney Crosby setting up the overtime game-winner.

But Iginla was reflective on the media call on the importance of being a non-white player in a predominantly white sport – he’s just the fourth black player inducted into the Hall, following Grant Fuhr, Angela James and Willie O’Ree.

“Growing up, I just played hockey, just loved playing it… But a question I got asked a lot was what are the chances of making it to the NHL? There aren’t many black players in the NHL.”

“I had favourites as a kid,” Iginla continued. “I wanted to be like Mark Messier and I loved Wayne Gretzky, the same as other kids. But it was also important to me to see the black players that were in the NHL, to see Grant Fuhr starring, to be able to say to people ‘well look at Grant Fuhr, he’s an All-Star.’ And to see Claude Vilgrain and Tony McKegney, and to have answers for the other kids.”

“It is an honour in so many ways, but also I think if there’s other kids – minorities, other black kids – right now seeing that it’s possible. And it was special to me, maybe that’ll be special to some other kid in the way that it was for me.”

Now, after growing up watching him play, Iginla joins Fuhr in the Hall.

The 2020 class will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame this November.