With less than a month before the April 3 trade deadline, many speculate Jarome Iginla’s 18-year career in the Calgary Flames organization may be drawing to a close. Iginla’s 5-year, $35 million contract is set to expire at the end of this season, but in the meantime, it contains a pesky no movement clause. Flames GM Jay Feaster realizes what a delicate situation trading away a franchise player like Iginla is, especially when comprehensive rebuilding is likely just around the corner.
Iginla has popped up in Bruins trades rumors for some time now, and the fact that Iginla has yet to instruct agent Don Meehan to push for a contract extension has only made Bruins fans more optimistic that some sort of deal could be reached to bring Iginla, the gritty winger the B’s have been looking for, to Boston.
Iginla’s predicament brings to mind #77, especially if he is dealt to a serious Stanley Cup contender. On February 28, 2000, Ray Bourque requested a trade from then Bruins president Harry Sinden after the B’s had won only eight games since Thanksgiving. “This was a selfish move in terms of my career,” Bourque told Sports Illustrated‘s Michael Farber. “I know it’s a shocker, that I made a move like this, because everything I’ve ever done in my life has been safe, safe, safe.”
But the Hockey Gods smiled upon Bourque’s years of selflessness and bestowed upon him the greatest trophy in all of sports in his second season with the red-hot Colorado Avalanche, a team stacked with greats: Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg, Milan Hejduk, Patrick Roy, BU’s Chris Drury, and Iginla’s current teammate, Alex Tanguay.
Iginla came painfully close to Lord Stanley’s Cup in 2004, losing to John Tortorella’s Tampa Bay Lightning in seven games. Of course, that’s closer than Bourque ever got during his time with his Bruins. In two trips to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1988 and 1990, the B’s managed to procure only one win from the Edmonton Oilers. In fact, prior to 2001, Bourque had waited longer to win his first Cup than any other Cup-winning player had in the 108-year history of the Stanley Cup, having played 1,612 regular season and 214 playoff games. Iginla has 1,212 regular season and 54 playoff games under his belt – nowhere near Bourque’s numbers, but certainly due.
Of course, the comparison is not perfect. Iginla is not in the stage of his game as Bourque, who requested the trade to find out “what was left.” At 35, Iginla could still have five or so years left in him. He will not be a late season “Rent-a-Ray,” as Farber described Bourque, but he will not be the embodiment of youth and vigor either. When the Avs acquired Bourque, he was ranked the third-best defenseman in NHL history. Though Iginla has won the Richard Trophy twice, the Ross once, and is one of seven players in NHL history to score 30 goals in 11 consecutive seasons, to include him among even the top five wingers of all-time would be a mighty stretch.
But perhaps Iginla could be a “reverse” Ray Bourque: a longtime captain of a frustrated team in the West, requesting a trade late in his career to a powerhouse Bruins team in the East that lacks that one last piece needed to hoist the Cup.
An earlier draft of this column asked where and if the Bruins needed Iginla. Last night’s third period meltdown against the Penguins rendered that a ridiculous question. While Caron may have improved the third line marginally, Kelly’s injury obliterated any further improvement that we may have seen. The Bruins need offense — whether its flashy like Seguin or gritty like Iginla, the Bruins will not advance past the first round of the playoffs with a goal differential hovering ar0und 1.
The consensus among experts and insiders is that Calgary will not deal Iginla unless all hope a playoff run is gone by the trade deadline. If the Bruins have any chance of nabbing Iginla, the Flames need to lose, and keep losing. If all goes well, and Iginla is fortunate enough to finally get his name on the Cup wearing black and gold, he’ll be more than welcome to take it over to Calgary for a day or two.
What do you think? Leave a comment below.