The Jarome Iginla Conundrum

Last week I released "The 10 Things To Focus On In The NHL Playoffs." One reader commented that he wants “to see if Iggy,” Jarome Iginla, “can finally get that ring.” I immediately regretted leaving Iginla off my list. The NHL loves to watch its elderly stars culminate their careers with the Stanley Cup in their hands.

Ray Bourque in 2001 stands out, but there’s also Lanny McDonald with the ‘89 Flames, Dominik Hasek with the ‘02 Red Wings, Dave Andreychuk with the ‘04 Lightning, and Teemu Selanne with the ‘07 Ducks (of course, you can still find him in 2013).

So I admitted my mistake and acknowledged Iggy’s significant place in these playoffs. After 16 seasons in the league, he deserves to lift the Stanley Cup even if it’s outside his adopted home of Calgary.

Then I started thinking, and as so often happens when I start thinking, things got complicated. Let’s first look at the reasons why one would want Iginla to capture the elusive trophy.

No matter how you draw it up, Jarome Arthur-Leigh Adekunle Tig Junior Elvis Iginla is one of the most iconic players in league history. Not only is he the face of a proud, Canadian franchise, but he’s also a second generation Nigerian. Grant Fuhr paved the way for players of African descent to star in the league, but Iginla has taken that stardom to a new level. Two Rocket Richard trophies, 11 straight 30-goal seasons, 2 50-goal seasons, over 500 career goals and 1100 career points makes a nice resume. In addition to his NHL success, Iginla has won two Olympic Gold Medals as a member of Team Canada. In the 2010 final, it was “Iggy” who set up Sidney Crosby’s golden goal.

His name means “Big Tree.” He fights. He hits. He scores. He’s a proud Canadian, which is oxymoronic south of the border but the ultimate compliment in the north.

The most convincing argument in support of the Iginla Cup, however, is the fact that he kind of, should have, possibly already won one. That’s not to say his great teams failed- they haven’t because frankly he hasn’t played on great teams- or that he’s failed as a Captain. He hasn’t.

No, in Canadians’ eyes Jarome Iginla should be a Stanley Cup champion. In his one career finals appearance in 2004, the Flames captain scored and fought his way through six games. His bout with his Lightning counterpart, Vincent LeCavalier was epic like Faith No More.

The Flames took a 3-2 series lead home to the delirious crowd at the Penngrowth Saddledome. The teams were playing to a 2-2 stalemate late into the third period when the Calgary’s Martin Gelinas crashed the Tampa goal. The puck deflected off his skate, which forced Lightning net minder Nickolai Khabibulin into a stellar pad save, or rather an apparent pad save. The play was not reviewed immediately, but subsequent replays showed that the puck maaaaay have crossed the goal line (3:00 mark of the video).

Flames fans continue to bemoan that “missed” call to this day. Someone should tell them that Alberta complaints die on the tundra. Martin St. Louis scored in double overtime of that game 6, and the Lightning lifted the Cup in game 7.

Iginla is 35. As the Flames burned out (pun intended) over the past several seasons, fans and pundits alike have been playing the guessing game of "Where will Iginla go to get his Cup?" We finally got an answer this season.

And this is where it gets tricky. According to reports, the Flames had a deal in place with the Boston Bruins. But in an uncharacteristically selfish move, Iginla requested that he be traded to the Penguins.

Now we’re here. We want Jarome Iginla to win a Stanley Cup. This is his best chance in a career that’s winding down fast. On the other hand, it’s anathema to root for the Penguins for most everyone outside of Western Pennsylvania.

This is a conundrum. You know what that means? It means you have no choice.

Luckily the New York Islanders and to a greater extent Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury have given us time to ponder. The series stands at 2-2, with game five coming tonight.

I'm in full fledged Islanders fandom right now. At the same time, I expect Pittsburgh to pull themselves together and advance to the Stanley Cup Finals. Should they win it, I will be ecstatic for Iginla, but I'll politely request that he remove his sweater before receiving the trophy.

And now I'm fighting myself again. What do you guys think?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *