WILMINGTON — The reaction from the Bruins one day after learning that Jarome Iginla had rejected them in favor of a new home in Pittsburgh? A collective shrug.
There was no anger. There was no desire for revenge. There were no outsized reactions. There was, instead, a sense of equanimity about the situation. Iginla had the choice, and he made it.
“It’s his one chance to really make a decision for what’s best for him in his eyes,” Andrew Ference said. “How can you fault somebody for doing what they want to do in a situation where they have that kind of control?
“That’s part of his contract and part of his deal that he gets that option. So, of course he’s going to make a decision for himself.”
And that was what Iginla did, spurning the Bruins for the Penguins after his old team, the Calgary Flames, had told Boston a trade was was done. It could have meant disappointment in the Bruins’ locker room. But there was none of that.
“It’s his choice,” Patrice Bergeron said. “That was in his contract. What can you do? We have no control over it, so I don’t really stop and worry about it.”
Nor were the Bruins worried about their April 19 date with the Penguins at TD Garden. As Bergeron said, “They’re a great team, so it’s always been motivating to play Pittsburgh. I don’t think it should change anything.”
For Matt Bartkowski, though, the situation was far more personal. He had been scratched Wednesday night against Montreal, had heard that he was included in the deal — with Alexander Khokhlachev and a first-round pick — and should start packing his bags for Calgary.
And then, nothing.
Bartkowski, who had been signed to a one-year, one-way contract extension for $650,000 on Wednesday in order to trade him, said he at least was happy that he didn’t get caught up in the Twitter storm created by the deal or no deal. (Bartkowski isn’t on Twitter.)
“I really can’t control it, so I don’t really try to worry about it or watch rumors,” Bartkowski said. “It was pretty hard the other night not to be aware of it.”
He was told the deal was off by Torey Krug, the defenseman the Bruins recalled from Providence to replace Bartkowski after he had to be scratched. The news was a relief.
“I wouldn’t have signed that deal here if I didn’t want to be here and didn’t like it here,” said Bartkowski, who could still be traded before Wednesday’s deadline. “So, I was pretty happy when I heard it didn’t go through.”
General manager Peter Chiarelli spoke with Bartkowski on Friday, emphasizing that it was the Flames who wanted him, rather than the Bruins wanting to get rid of him.
Boston wanted to add Iginla. But it didn’t happen.
“That was his entitlement,” coach Bruins Claude Julien said. “He’s got a no-trade clause. When you look at what Pittsburgh’s done, you’ve got to respect the guy’s decision. It was his decision to make and he made that.
“It’ll be at the end of the year that he’ll see whether he made the right decision or not, but certainly there’s no animosity here.”
Now the Bruins have to wait to see if Chiarelli can come up with another trade, one that could help fix the cracks that have emerged of late.
“You can do fantasy hockey all you want,” Ference said. “You can do that with any guy around the league. We’d love to have [Tampa Bay’s Steven] Stamkos, he’d probably help our power play. But until something happens, until somebody’s putting on your sweater, I don’t think there’s too many guys that get that wrapped up in it.”
The Bruins know that Iginla would have made them better, but they also know that he wouldn’t have solved everything. So there are no “sore feelings,” as Ference said. There’s also an understanding that they need to improve themselves and not wait for outside help.
As Julien said, “One guy is not going to be a savior.
“No matter who we get, we’re not going to sit back and watch this guy go. We’ve still got to do the job . . . It’s just about finding our game again, getting that confidence that we had earlier on, and it’s going to come back.”