Getty Images

Alex Tanguay on his time playing with the ‘ultra-competitive’ Jarome Iginla

1 Comment

The type of passes didn’t matter. They could have been hard to the tape or maybe a little off the tape, but Jarome Iginla would make sure that the pucks coming off of Alex Tanguay’s stick would find a way to the net. Many, many times those pucks would find their way into the net. Such was the life of playing alongside a forward who would finish his career with 625 goals.

“The shooting ability was second to none,” Tanguay told Pro Hockey Talk recently. “When you go from thinking about how he was able to one-time the puck, there’s very few people that can shoot the puck like Jarome Iginla does. You think of [Alex] Ovechkin, you think of [Steven] Stamkos, you think of guys like that as far as ability to shoot — that’s when I look at Jarome. 

“I remember how hard and where I was passing the puck, no guys would be able to do that. He was truly had a knack for scoring that way. I used to pass it as hard as I could and I knew that he was going to find a way to get it on net and get it hard on net and get in a position where the goalie would not be there. I used to pass it a little on his front foot or make a bad pass on the back foot, and he would still find a way to get it on net. He had very, very unique abilities and we were a good complement in the fact that I was more of a playmaker, more of a passer.”

After joining the Calgary Flames before the 2006-07 NHL season, Tanguay found himself playing with Iginla. The playmaker and the goal scorer. It would come as no surprise that the two clicked well on a line together, with Iginla scoring 39 times and hitting the 90-point total for the second time in his career. Tanguay would reach the 20-goal mark for the fourth straight season and also record career highs with 59 assists and 81 points.

Tanguay, who’s now an analyst on NHL Network, would spend one more season in Calgary before returning for the start of the 2010-11 campaign. That would be the second of five straight playoff-less springs for the Flames. And as the lockout-shortened 2013 season began and success didn’t arrive, it was time for the team to head in a different direction.

[Jarome Iginla retires from the NHL]

That direction meant trading their captain and heart and soul in Iginla. The split was inevitable, but it was difficult. He had been woven into the fabric of the city, set down roots there and had grown up there following the trade from Dallas when he was 18 years old.

“Most Calgary Flames fans would have like to seen him a Flame for his whole career but it just didn’t work out that way,” Tanguay said. “The team was going in a different direction at the time. They were going to go younger. They were going to make some changes to draft some of the core players that they have now. To get that and to start doing that, they traded [Jay] Bouwmeester, they traded Jarome, they traded assets to get more value to rebuild.

“But it was sad. As a friend, I was sad to see Jarome go, for sure.”

The topic of Iginla’s eventual departure wasn’t a huge one topic inside the Flames’ dressing room. It would come up, but most of the conversations between the players were about their families and other things happening in their lives. 

“It was probably more in his mind than the rest of us,” said Tanguay. “Most athletes go through situations like that and he handled it like a true professional and true gentleman.”

When Iginla was finally traded in late March to the Pittsburgh Penguins, the void inside the room was noticeable. The Flames would finish near the bottom of the Pacific Division and Western Conference as a new era dawned. The star attraction was gone.

“For superstars like this, the rupture is always a little bit harder,” said Tanguay. “Everything they mean in the city for the organization, for the fans… those are guys that sell your seats because, let’s be honest, most people don’t go pay to see the guys at the bottom of the lineup — they go to see the superstars. They’re the ones that sell the jerseys. They’re the ones that your fans want to see first and foremost and certainly Jarome was that for the better part [16] years in Calgary.”

Iginla and Tanguay wouldn’t be separated for long. Knowing how well they performed together in Calgary, Patrick Roy and Joe Sakic had Tanguay sell Iginla on coming to join the Colorado Avalanche. It worked, and a three-year deal was hammered out ahead of the 2014-15 season.

Despite being apart for a season-and-a-half, the chemistry still was present when Iginla and Tanguay hopped over the boards together. They knew how to work together and often times there wasn’t a need to communicate while on the ice. Each player knew where the other would be and they excelled with Iginla scoring 29 goals and Tanguay hitting 20 goals and recording 55 points, his best totals in four seasons. 

“All those little things that you work on for years, sometimes it helps to have that chemistry with guys and that’s why you see some of the best players in today’s game — [Sidney] Crosby, [Evgeni] Malkin, [Anze] Kopitar — sometimes there’s certain guys that click with them,” said Tanguay.

“Jarome was a superstar in the way that he scored goals and the way that he played in Calgary and he connected with a few of those guys. You think of [Craig] Conroy who was brought back because he had a great connection with him. You think of [Mike] Cammalleri [who] had a couple of stints with him in Calgary. I guess I was lucky enough to fall in that trail for a little bit.”

What put Iginla into the superstar class was his desire, added Tanguay. He was a prototypical power forward who, if you were in the way, would make sure you moved or were moved. The traits he possessed, on and off the ice, that made him great and into a future Hall of Famer, were appreciated by those around him.

“The thing that I liked about him was he was ultra-competitive and ultra-passionate about what he did,” said Tangauy. “I think that it showed in the way he played. It showed in his character and the integrity he showed off the ice. 

“All in all, he’s one of the guys that for how good he is, he would always make time, he would always be polite with the people around him and that’s a great gift that he had and that he still possesses today.”

————

Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Jarome Iginla to announce retirement from NHL

Getty Images
7 Comments

The Calgary Flames will hold a press conference on Monday where longtime captain Jarome Iginla will announce his retirement.

The 41-year-old Iginla last played during the 2016-17 NHL season with the Colorado Avalanche and Los Angeles Kings. He continued skating this past season while hoping to catch on with a team after his Olympic hopes were dashed due to a nagging hip injury.

While he also played with the Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins, ultimately, Iginla will forever be linked with the Flames.

Drafted 11th overall in 1995 by the Dallas Stars, Iginla was on the move six months later after being acquired by the Flames in the Joe Nieuwendyk trade. His NHL debut actually came during the 1995-96 Stanley Cup Playoffs where he played two games. The following season he made quite the impression scoring 21 goals and recording 50 points during a rookie campaign that saw him finish as runner-up for the Calder Trophy.

Iginla’s star began to shine even brighter in Calgary over the next several seasons. He would score 52 goals and record 96 points during the 2001-02 season, which would see him win the Rocket Richard Trophy, Art Ross Trophy and the Lester Pearson Award. He lost out on a tiebreaker for the Hart Trophy that year, which was awarded to Jose Theodore.

Two seasons later, Iginla would win another Richard Trophy after scoring 41 goals and he would help the Flames reach the Cup Final, where they would fall in seven games to the Tampa Bay Lightning. He would lead all players in goals scored that spring with 13 and finish with 22 points in 26 games. That final series would also see the Flames captain drop the gloves in a legendary Game 3 scrap with Vincent Lecavalier.

Two games later, Iginla had what is now known as “The Shift” in overtime of Game 5. After being abused an entire two-minute shift, a helmetless No. 12 helped set up Oleg Saprykin’s winner to give Calgary a 3-2 series lead.

That was as far as Iginla’s Flames would go in the postseason, and when it became clear the team was going through a rebuild, it was time to move on.

On March 27, 2013, Iginla was held out of a game as reports of a trade heated up. Many went to bed believing he had been dealt to the Bruins only to wake up and find out a trade had been finalized with the Penguins, his preferred destination. The two teams would meet in the Eastern Conference Final later that spring with the Bruins advancing to the Final after a sweep. Months later, Iginla-to-the-Bruins would happen for real after he signed a one-year contract.

One season in Boston led to two and a half seasons with the Avalanche before a final bow with the Kings.

“I don’t sit here now and think: ‘Man, it flew by. I wish I’d enjoyed it more,'” Iginla told George Johnson of the Flames’ website. “When I started, you have a dream about making in the NHL, how good it’s going to be and what it’s like. I enjoyed it while it was happening.”

Internationally, Iginla represented Canada in five different competitions, winning gold medals at the Olympics (twice), World Championship, World Junior Championship and World Cup of Hockey. His most famous moment wearing the maple leaf was assisting on Sidney Crosby‘s golden goal during the 2010 Games in Vancouver.

Along with his many honors, which includes back-to-back Memorial Cups in junior, Iginla finishes his NHL career with 625 goals, 1,300 points, 1,554 games, 12 hat tricks, and six All-Star Game selections.

After he speaks during Monday’s press conference, the next big stage we’ll likely hear from him will be at the podium in Toronto in three years when he’s delivering his speech at the Hockey Hall of Fame.

————

Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Jarome Iginla skates with AHL Providence, still wants to play

Getty Images
4 Comments

Be sure to visit NBCOlympics.com and NBC Olympic Talk for full hockey coverage from PyeongChang.

Jarome Iginla is still without a team but isn’t giving up hope just yet on one last ride in the NHL.

The 40-year-old Iginla, who last played in 2016-17 with the Colorado Avalanche and Los Angeles Kings, was spotted on the ice at Providence Bruins practice on Tuesday, but there’s nothing in the works as far as a deal anywhere, he told the Providence Journal’s Mark Divver.

Iginla’s name popped up in contention for a spot on the Canadian Olympic team this fall, but a hip procedure cost him time on the ice and ultimately a place in GM Sean Burke’s final roster for PyeongChang. (The Canadians are doing just fine without him having reached the semifinals of the tournament.)

Now living in the Boston area after buying a house last spring, Iginla, who played 78 games with the NHL Bruins during the 2013-14 season, was simply taking advantage of a favor from the team. He’s expected to skate with AHL Providence again on Thursday as he continues to see where his body is physically.

Iginla — and for that matter, U.S. Olympian Brian Gionta, who’s also looking to continue playing — can sign with any NHL team, but to be eligible to play in the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs a deal needs to be inked before the 3 p.m. ET trade deadline next Monday.

————

Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Olympic hopes in doubt for Jarome Iginla

Getty Images
5 Comments

On Thursday, Hockey Canada announced its 25-man roster for this month’s Channel One Cup tournament in Moscow. There are plenty of names on the list that will stick out to you like Derek Roy, Rene Bourque, Gilbert Brule, P.A. Parenteau, Simon Despres and Ben Scrivens.

One name that’s been bandied about for months but wasn’t included is Jarome Iginla.

The 40-year-old Iginla failed to latch on with an NHL team this off-season, which opened up the door to play for Canada at the PyeongChang Olympics in February. He recently underwent a minor hip procedure and was planning to begin skating again this week.

According to TSN’s Darren Dreger, Canada had an open invite for Iginla to play in the Spengler Cup later this month but it looks like he won’t be ready by Dec. 26 and now his Olympic chances are in danger.

“As good a player as Jarome has been, as good a man as he is, if he’s not playing, it’s hard to give yourself opportunity for a fair evaluation, quite honestly, of what he might be able to do in the Olympic Games,” Hockey Canada president and CEO Tom Renney said last month. “It’s tough to go from zero to 60 as a 40-year-old.”

Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos reported last month that Iginla hasn’t given up hope of returning to the NHL. If the Olympics are now out of the equation he can fully focus on finding a team to give him at least a tryout for one last shot at The Show. But time is running out.

————

Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Jarome Iginla could suit up for Canada again (Video)

Getty Images
3 Comments

Unrestricted free agent Jarome Iginla could once again don a Team Canada jersey.

The Hockey Night panel discussed Iginla’s return to the ice on Saturday on Hockey Night in Canada. Iginla recently had a minor operation on his hip. He played 80 games last season split between the Colorado Avalanche and the Los Angeles Kings.

“He had conversations with Team Canada this week,” Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman said during Saturday’s broadcast. “He’s going to begin skating in about a week or two and I think Team Canada has re-extended the invitation (to play in the Spengler Cup). If he wants to play in the Spengler Cup before the Olympics, there will be a spot for him.”

The Spengler Cup runs from Dec. 26 to Dec. 31 in Davos, Switzerland.

Hockey Canada’s president and CEO Tom Renny told Sportsnet at the beginning of November that Iginla needs to play hockey to be considered for the Olympic team that will head to South Korea early next year.

It was reported in September that Iginla was being ‘selective’ with where he wanted to sign as a free agent, but teams were being just as selective when it came to Iginla, who had 14 goals and 27 points in 80 games last season.

Earlier this month, Calgary Flames president of hockey operations Brian Burke said the Flames kicked the tires regarding bringing Iginla. 40, back to the town where played for 17 years.

If Iginla signed with an NHL team between now and the start of the Olympics, he would be ineligible to play for Canada.

Iginla is a future NHL Hall of Famer, with 625 goals and 1,300 points in 1,554 career games. He has won gold twice with Canada at the Olympics, in 2002 in Salt Lake City and again in Vancouver in 2010, but has never hoisted the Stanley Cup.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck