Iginla recently responded to questions on the Avalanche's official Facebook page, covering topics from growing up to playing in the NHL to recording 1,200 points. Below are the questions and his answers.
What’s the biggest difference in the game between when you started playing and now? – Dave Russotto
"The biggest difference is the clutching and grabbing, the amount of hooking you could get away with, as far as hooking guys, and skiing behind them, and on the forecheck. No one could get your D-man because you were literally allowed to hook them with either end of your stick, your butt end or your front. That’s a big difference, and I think it’s a positive change."
In your career, who has been your favorite player to play alongside with? – Russel Aaron Houde
"I have a favorite line that I ever got to play with, and that would be at the World Cup. I got to play with Mario Lemieux and Joe Sakic. I got to be the right winger on their line. That was pretty cool. I’ve gotten to play with a lot of really, really good players during the regular season, but that was like… I was a kid in a candy store and I couldn’t believe it. It was fun. And then we ended up, it was a good tournament for our team and I think I got some pictures – I wanted to get some pictures – with them on the line and that was pretty cool."
What’s your most memorable moment in the NHL? – Dominic McLeod
"Probably getting called up in the playoffs at the end of my 18-year-old year in junior, and getting my first chance to play in the NHL. I played on a line with Theo Fleury and German Titov, and I was actually center on their line. The night before, we had lost (in junior) and I was literally watching (NHL) highlights, and they said they were calling me up. It was an afternoon game. I really didn’t expect to play, but I got called in and they told me I was playing, but they didn’t want to tell me the night before. It was the hugest thrill – to actually make the NHL. I went from the night before, literally watching highlights of players in the NHL, and now I’m shooting on Eddie Belfour and on the line with Theo and going against Jeremy Roenick and Chris Chelios. It was such a quick turnaround. It was my first game, and I dreamed of it since I was 7 years old and you’re playing and you’re practicing… To actually play my first game was probably the most excited that I’ve ever been. I’ve been fortunate enough to have a lot of neat experiences, Olympics and everything, getting to the Stanley Cup Finals was really cool, but to actually make the NHL was just something I don’t think I or my family will ever forget."
What is your greatest success/accomplishment in the NHL? – Dylan Webber
"Personally, I don’t think about that a lot, but I’d like to still win a Stanley Cup. Getting to the Stanley Cup Finals was a lot of fun that year with Calgary, and then being able to score 500 goals was something that when I started, I never dreamt of. You see guys and you start doing the math, and break down what it would take in a year and you hear the average of how long people play, so probably those things."
How did point No. 1,200 feel? – Amber Rogers
"It felt good. It’s neat afterward. It’s nice when it’s in a winning game – everybody’s in a good mood and it feels 100 times better. It wasn’t something when I started, to think of that far out and imagining how many years it might take, but you don’t really think of them as you go. It’s not like, 'Oh, now I’m just trying to get to 1,300.' You’re just trying to be good next game, and try to score points and score goals. When I hit 1,000 points, that was neater – getting to the quadruple digits. But each one is special, and I’m definitely thankful for it."
Who did you look up to growing up? – Geoff Bowkett
"I grew up in a city just outside of Edmonton, St. Albert. So I watched NHL games with my grandpa. I watched a lot of games, back then it was called the Smythe Division, and it was just Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and Winnipeg. Whoever Edmonton played, I watched. So, the guys I looked up to – Edmonton had great teams – Mark Messier, Wayne Gretzky, those are two of my favorites. Also, Grant Fuhr. Being a minority, and not many black players in the NHL, it was a big deal to me to try to follow as many of the black players in the NHL. And there were other ones, Tony McKegney, Claude Vilgrain, just to try to find them around the league and to be able to know that it was possible to see it as a kid. So different reasons there, but Gretzky and Messier for how great they were, their on ice (achievements) and winning, and Grant Fuhr, being an All-Star. I loved goalies for a long time, debated wanting to be one growing up, so those are the guys."
What’s it like playing for Patrick Roy? – Tracy May
"I’ve really enjoyed it. The guys, before I came here, had said a lot of good things. When free agency comes, you’re hoping for good opportunities and I was fortunate to have some good teams with some good organizations that were interested, but a big reason for picking here was Patrick Roy. Just how successful he’s been as a player in his career and already as a coach. How driven he is, and getting here you see that. We go over a lot of details, but there’s a nice balance between him being an ex-player, and it doesn’t really feel that long ago. There are details, but there’s also the other stuff that goes into a game, like competing. And sometimes it’s not always perfect, and we’re not always perfect, and we make mistakes, but he has a good understanding. He gives us a break. He’s been there – if it bounced this way or that way, as long as we’re working well on the next one. You definitely see the passion and the drive to win."
What’s your advice for future hockey players? – Andrew Calascione
"It’s a great job. Everything, when I was younger, that I dreamed the NHL would be… It’s been that much and more. It’s been a lot of fun, but it’s a job that a lot of kids will want to do. So you have to practice, and you have to try to practice more than the next guy. You talk to guys – I like to ask Nate MacKinnon, he was always at rinks, always shooting pucks, he was in hockey schools, he’s playing hockey, he’s playing other sports. You name the guy – Dutchy (Matt Duchene) – they put a lot of time in it. Ask Sidney Crosby and different guys, it doesn’t just happen without the time put in and the practice. If that’s your dream, it is possible, but you’ve got to give yourself the best chance, and that’s trying to practice and work at it more than the next guy because a lot of kids want to do it."
Why No. 12? - Robert Hogan
"In junior, I actually wanted to be No. 11, and in Kamloops there was No. 11 and 12 available. For whatever reason they gave me No. 12, and not No. 11, and it just became a habit. It’s not superstitious. When I got to the NHL, I had No. 24, but during my first year Paul Kruse got traded wearing No. 12 and the GM asked me if I wanted it, so I took it. You just kind of get used wearing a number. There’s no superstition behind it, nothing special, just from juniors on."
Interview conducted and transcribed by Emily Wade