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37 FOR 37: THE GREATEST

Iginla's 2001-02 campaign marks one of the greatest statistical seasons in Flames history

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames / calgaryflames.com

He'd go on to scale unprecedented heights for this franchise, setting career standards in the colours that threaten to stand forever.

Scrolling back to 2001-2002, though, Jarome Iginla could be considered at the very peak of his considerable powers.

"Looking back,'' Flames' assistant GM Craig Conroy is saying, "I honestly don't know how he didn't win it (Hart Trophy) that year.

"Jose Theodore had a great season, too, but …"

Conroy shakes his head.

"I mean, I realize I'm a bit biased, being a teammate and a friend, but that year … Jarome just did it all. Fought. Scored goals. Won the (Art Ross). Was our leader.

"Everything."

In terms of prestigious hardware, Iginla's 2001-2002 turn remains unequalled in franchise annals:

*The Maurice Richard Trophy as top goal scorer (52, the only Flame to win it, and the only player that season to crack the touchstone 50 plateau).

*The Art Ross Trophy as leading scorer (96 points, the only Flame to win it).

*Lester B Pearson MVP, as selected by his peers, the players (the only Flame to win it).

*First All-Star Team Selection at right-wing.

Among his 52 goals, 16 came via the powerplay and seven turned out to be game-winners.

But the major bauble of the awards evening in Toronto, the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP, somehow eluded him.

Now there's no arguing that Theodore's season deserved applause: A 2.11 goals-against-average (second to Patrick Roy's 1.96 in Colorado) and 30 wins (third, behind Martin Brodeur - 38 - and Roy - 32).

And, on the final counting, the balloting could scarcely have been closer. Unprecedented, actually. 

Both Theodore and Iginla finished at 434 points, meaning the tiebreaker would be first-place votes.

In that department, Theodore garnered 26 ballots, Iginla 23.

Perhaps decisively, the Canadiens reached the Stanley Cup playoffs that spring while the rebuilding Flames missed out for a fifth consecutive season and sixth over seven.

Iginla was only then hitting his stride. He would go on to lead the Flames in scoring for an astonishing further nine consecutive seasons.

"The scary part is that Iggy wants to be one of the best players every year," said Conroy back in 2002. "He doesn't want to have just one good year and be, like" 'OK, that was fun.' He wants to do it year in, year out. 

"That's going to make him one of the best players for years to come."

Prophetic words.

While admittedly disappointed that the Hart had eluded him, the Pearson nod particularly pleased Iginla.

"In a game like hockey that is fierce and with physical battles that go on all season,'' the Flames' captain, renowned for playing a bruising style, reasoned, "it's a special feeling to think that some of those same opponents voted for me.

"They're both (Hart and Pearson) big awards in my mind. They're big awards in anybody's mind.

"I couldn't ask for more of a dream season, except for making the playoffs and winning the Stanley Cup. So there are more dreams.

"But a lot of them have been delivered this year."

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