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Bruins' Iginla excited to be back in Calgary

Monday, 12.09.2013 / 7:56 PM / NHL Insider

By Aaron Vickers - NHL.com Correspondent

CALGARY -- In his 16-year tenure with the Calgary Flames, there weren't too many cracks, crannies and crevices at Scotiabank Saddledome that Jarome Iginla didn't know like the back of his hand.

The visitor's dressing room is a new one for the 36-year-old, though.

It's where Iginla held court Monday as a member of the Boston Bruins, addressing nearly three-dozen media members in front of eight cameras one day in advance of his return to the rink he used to call home. The Flames host the Bruins on Tuesday (9:30 p.m. ET, TSN, NESN).

"It looks pretty good though," Iginla said. "It looks pretty good. Having spent a lot of time here, I definitely didn't know all the connections (between rooms) and stuff, but it's great to be back. It felt good right from coming in, landing to getting on the ice. It's only been a few hours, but it's been fun."

Flashbacks of his 1,219 games played over parts of 16 seasons in a Flames sweater didn't immediately flood Iginla's memory as he returned to the scene of memorable moments like his first and 500th career NHL goal and Calgary's run to the 2004 Stanley Cup Final.

In fact, arriving at the rink provided little in the way of jogging his memory.

After walking around inside for a few minutes, it didn't take long for him to reminisce.

"It's a different entrance driving to it on the bus on the different side and all that," said Iginla, who served nine seasons as Flames captain. "Once you get in here, yeah, a lot of flashbacks. Go over and see some of the staff and stuff, it's already been fun and I just plan on enjoying it and look forward to going out to dinner tonight and get ready for the game and have fun [Tuesday], but I'd like to play well too. It's business too.”

It's the business end that saw Iginla leave the only franchise he'd known in his career.

In the final season of a five-year, $35 million pact and Calgary eyeing a rebuild, Iginla and the Flames amicably parted ways last spring by way of a trade to the Pittsburgh Penguins. With the teams ironing out the details of the swap, Iginla was made a healthy scratch in what would've been his final game with the Flames -- on home ice, no less.

No one expected a 3-2 victory against the St. Louis Blues, complete with an Iginla game-winner, on March 24 to be his last in Calgary.

The 6-foot-1, 210-pound forward didn't feel cheated in not getting a goodbye, though.

"A lot of people when they get traded, you don't have, from my experience watching guys go, usually it's pretty sudden, so I don't feel like I was missing that game," Iginla said. "I felt like that was the way of the business and not many people play knowing it's going to be their last game, so I didn't feel like that was missing as far as felt like ripped off."

He will get his proper, deserved sendoff by Flames fans on Tuesday.

Not that the unassuming Iginla is expecting one, though.

"I don't have a lot of expectations. I hope it's positive," he said. "I had great experiences here. I love playing here. I'm going to enjoy playing here tomorrow being back at the Saddledome. I hope it's positive. I don't know, but I don't have a lot of expectations or anything. I just want to enjoy it. It's a thrill for me too and it will be for my family. It'll be something different. I imagine it'll be a little bit different at the start, but it'll be cool."

By his own admission, Iginla -- the Flames' franchise leader in games (1,219), points (1,095) and goals (525) -- didn't watch the returns of Vincent Lecavalier to Tampa Bay Times Forum or the Ottawa Senators' welcoming back of Daniel Alfredsson.

He didn't want an idea of what to expect in Calgary on Tuesday.

And as such, he doesn't have an idea of how he himself will react when those who he brought to their feet countless times over 16 seasons rise once more to honor their former captain.

"I'm trying to prepare myself," Iginla said. "At game-time, I don't plan on being extremely emotional, but I don't know. I want to try to take it as it comes. It'll be different, I don't know. I guess I don't rule it out. I would've if I was younger, I'd say 'Not a chance I would be emotional,' but as you get older, and maybe it's the kids or whatever, but maybe get a little more emotional."

Quote of the Day

It was the look in his eyes. Hockey is the most important thing in his life. He wants to be a hockey player, and nothing's going to stop him from being a hockey player.

— Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin on forward Alex Galchenyuk's potential