BostonBruins.com - Boston doesn't yet know Jarome Iginla that well - and I'm not even just referring to the fans. Many of the players and staff have yet to meet the 16-season NHL veteran, until he uproots and moves into town before Training Camp in early September.
Of course, it's not too difficult to know the player that he is, having powered through an already illustrious career. He's won at nearly every level of both professional and international hockey, aside from the ultimate prize, which he's still striving towards as he begins to suit up in the spoked-B in 2013-14.
So it was a unique opportunity to spend two days out near Kelowna, British Columbia in what's referred to as "The Okanagan," having Jarome give us a glimpse into his life and his offseason routine.
Back on July 5, after he signed his one-year deal as an unrestricted free agent, Iginla had addressed Boston media via conference call. He has yet to meet the B's reporters in person as a Bruin, but you could easily hear his excitement through the phone.
"My family and I are very excited to be joining the Bruins organization," Iginla had said on the call. "I’ve only heard great things from friends who have played there. Andy Ference, [Chuck] Kobasew, [Mark] Recchi amongst many others about the city, the team and the group of players there; I love the way they play."
"I know, as you get older, you have people start thinking how much is left in the tank," Iginla had added. He turned 36 on July 1. "I still feel great."
"I expect to play well. I expect to produce and be good for the Bruins and help contribute to a great regular season and be a contending team."
When the #BearTracks crew met Iginla this past week, we took in his workouts, first involving sprints, reaction time and quick footwork outdoors amidst the beautiful backdrop of the Okanagan Valley. He certainly looked "great" then, showing his competitive nature and racing his younger brother, Stephen, who trains with him in the summer, both with the sprints and in the weight room.
On the ice the next day, Iginla showcased the skills Bruins fans will first see come September and October in Black & Gold. He works with a skating coach every summer to keep honing the intricate details of his game, including skating, edge work, stickhandling, balance and shooting.
The biggest takeaway for me, though, after he graciously invited us into his summer routine, was seeing his motivation and positivity firsthand. His genuine professionalism and his drive to be better, to me, was overwhelmingly apparent this week.
"I’m absolutely very thrilled to come and be a part of the Bruins," said Iginla, following his on-ice skills session. "The experiences of trying to win a Stanley Cup, but it’s also more than that. It’s to try and come and be a part of the team."
"I’ve heard great things about the city and hopefully things go really well and we have a great year as a team and I’d like to play there longer than one year."
Iginla's current deal is for one year, with a base salary of $1.8 million and performance bonuses built in up to $4.6 million. The Bruins can go over the cap in combined player performance bonuses up to $4.8 million, allowing General Manager Peter Chiarelli more breathing room than, say, a $6 million base salary one-year deal.
"It’s actually a very good gesture by Jarome similar to the one Mark Recchi made two years in a row that is a cap friendly deal," Chiarelli had said following the signing. "He will get the bulk of his compensation in performance bonuses, attainable performance bonuses."
"I give Jarome credit for that."
And similar to Recchi, Iginla has his sights on being in Boston longer than just 2013-14.
"I know that’s getting ahead, but it’s something [where] you want to find a home, too," said the forward, with his contagious smile, as he took in the cool air of his training rink in British Columbia. "I'm excited."
"When the contract came, I knew the Bruins had Horton leaving and I wasn’t sure if they would still be interested. I’d understand why, if not, when I didn’t go there at the deadline," he added.
"I was thrilled when there was an opportunity and I know they’re tight against the cap and all the top teams are, especially with the cap going down this year. There was an opportunity, I was very thankful for it to have another chance to go there."
"[You can] call it a cap friendly [deal], but hopefully it’s one that works out and the team’s happy and my family and I love playing there and, hopefully, it can go longer."