Credit former Bruin and current TSN analyst Aaron Ward for having a sense of humor.
As you may remember or have been reminded of some seven-trillion times, former Calgary Flames captain and 36-year-old Jarome Iginla spurned the Bruins and, it seemed, the entire Boston community when he elected to go to the hated Penguins in a trade at the 2013 NHL deadline. The reports at the time, as Ward joked, prematurely had the future Hall of Famer bound for the Hub. Even the B's thought the deal was done, at least until Sidney Crosby and friends supposedly reached out to the veteran and gave his, "Hey, man, come to Pittsburgh! We're the best team in hockey," pitch. Something like that. Either way, it was shady.
In the end, Iginla did vote Pens, the B's left standing at the altar and forced to look in Jaromir Jagr's direction. That 41-year-old man of legend proved to be a great addition late in the regular season with 2 goals, 7 assists, and a plus-3 rating in 11 games, but more of a mixed bag come the playoffs (while Iginla was busy registering 12 points in his 15 postseason outings).
Ultimately, though, the Bruins had the last laugh in the drama. They may not have won the Stanley Cup, falling in six hard-fought games to the Blackhawks, but they got there, absolutely destroying Iginla and his highly-touted Penguins offense along the way for a chance to represent the East. Four games, four Boston wins, two Pittsburgh goals scored -- after the club averaged better than four goals per game entering the series.
In the moment, Iginla had to face a plethora of questions about his decision and there were no shortage of people to tell him it didn't work out, especially in Boston. He said all the right things, noting his respect for the Bruins' organization and appreciation of their interest, but that he made the best decision for him at the time.
Meanwhile, fans and we in the media ripped this guy to shreds for opting for the enemy. Still, many of us wondered, "Wouldn't you liked to have had him in the playoffs? If the Bruins had it to do again, wouldn't you still take him over Jagr?"
Here we are, only a few months later, and the B's do indeed have it to do again. While Nathan Horton, David Clarkson, Vinny Lecavalier, Ryan Clowe, Michael Ryder, Bobby Ryan, and Daniel Alfredsson all landed elsewhere via free agency or trade on Friday, B's general manager Peter Chiarelli nailed hockey's story of the day. Sadly, little trumps the Dwight Howard watch.
With Iginla's team-friendly one-year deal worth $6 million, capgeek.com shows the Bruins still have $5.2 million available in cap space, which factors in his bonus cushion, and does not include utilizing Marc Savard's salary.
Iggy deal: $1.8 M base salary, $3.7 M games played bonus, $500,000 goal scoring/team playoff performance: total $6 M— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) July 5, 2013
The Bruins are reported to be close to a 7-year extension with restricted free agent goalie Tuukka Rask worth $56 million, so Chiarelli's cap creativity isn't done yet. His moves aren't either.
Tyler Seguin and his immature, inconsistently-productive ways are gone to Dallas, along with Rich Peverley's overpriced contract, but talented scorer Loui Eriksson is on the books for the next three seasons. Even with Eriksson and now Iginla, the Bruins are still a little light on the right wing side.
Imagine bringing back Jagr. It'd be wonderful to see him return to Boston, if for no other reason than the way he held court in his press scrums, but he can also be a valuable addition to the third line with Chris Kelly (if that contract sticks around) and perhaps Carl Soderberg. If the top two lines read Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Iginla, and Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Eriksson, or some variation of that mix, that's pretty good, no?
So, how do we feel about Iginla? About three months ago, we loathed the guy. When the Bruins eliminated the Penguins, we laughed at him. Earlier in the week, this whole scenario would have been hilarious. Now, he's one of our own. For real this time.
Try to keep in mind not a one of us ever had a bad word to say about the six-time All-Star before he landed in Pittsburgh. The man once expected to be a career resident of Calgary joins his third team in two seasons, but he's incredibly well-respected throughout the NHL, a great teammate, one of the nicest guys you could come across, durable, and a talented player who can still produce offensively. May I remind you, he entered last season riding a streak of 11 straight seasons with at least 30 goals. He brings more than depth; he adds leadership to a foundation that's already firmly in place. Iginla could be the team's 2013-14 Mark Recchi, and you'll hear that comparison a lot. I guarantee his new teammates are thrilled. Chiarelli just might celebrate like Seguin for a night ... at least after he confirms Iginla's sure this time.
Maybe Iginla made the wrong call back in March. Based on which team moved on to the Final, there's no arguing that. But he had a choice again on July 5 and wasted little time in selecting a new home. There's no need to apologize to him for all we said about picking the perceived easier route to a ring because, well, he did. Heck, some out there may accuse him of doing so again. Doesn't matter; black and gold rather than black and yellow is a good enough reason to start anew for the people of New England. Everyone needs a fresh start. Ask Horton. After all, he always wanted to live in Columbus, Ohio.
So, to recap, Wednesday brought a new Celtics coach, Thursday welcomed the trade of Tyler Seguin and, Friday, Jarome Iginla to the Bruins, part deux. On behalf of the Boston media, do these teams know it's a holiday weekend?
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About this blog
Adam Kaufman is a writer and broadcaster who can also be heard regularly on 98.5 The Sports Hub, WBZ NewsRadio 1030, the national CBS Sports Radio Network, and broadcasting Boston College hockey games. The Massachusetts native is a Syracuse grad and a pop culture fanatic who offers a unique and entertaining look at your favorite Boston sports teams. Please don't hold his love for Jean-Claude Van Damme movies against him.
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