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FRIENDLY ADVICE

Good pal Shane Doan just had his jersey retired and offered up a tip for Iggy: "Don't miss a thing. Take it all in. Everything is spectacular"

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames / CalgaryFlames.com

They, the two of them, teenagers at the time with the whole, wide world out there on the horizon, could never, ever, in their wildest imaginations, on those numbing bus trips to Tacoma or Seattle or Spokane, have had an inkling of what was in store.

"Jarome and I used to sit together," Shane Doan is reminiscing. "I'd be on the floor, he'd be on the seat. Or vice versa. We used to sleep on the floors of the bus in those days, which, when you think about it now, seems crazy. 

"Not a lot of room to do that but we figured out a way to have a foamy down there.

"We'd have these incredible talks about playing the game and who's good and what it'd be like.

"It seems like only yesterday. It truly does. Neither of us could ever - well, at least I know I could never - have dreamed of being in a position to play 20 years in the NHL.

"Jarome's a Hall of Famer, a first-ballot Hall of Famer, and to think I was sitting there talking to a guy who's going to be in the Hall of Fame is one of those things that still gives me goosebumps.

"He's such a special guy. As a person, not just as a player."

They share so many intrinsically important traits, these men. Both captains. Both standard bearers for the right way, for excellence. Both drafted in '95, Doan seventh overall by the Winnipeg Jets, Iginla 11th by the Dallas Stars.

Both came to symbolize their respective organizations, in different cities.

Last Sunday, Doan's signature No. 19 rose to the rafters of Gila River Arena in Glendale, Az. A one-franchise guy. Tonight, Jarome Iginla's trademark No. 12 follows suit at the Scotiabank Saddledome. An in-his-heart one-franchise guy.

There's a certain lovely symmetry in these honours, coming as they do six days apart.

"I think that's really cool," agrees Iginla. "I was 17, he was 18, and you'd be on the bus, dreaming about playing in the NHL. That would be the greatest thing ever, right? You don't talk about 'One day our jerseys will in the rafters.' At that age, nobody dreams that big.

"I was very fortunate to go to Kamloops and play with so many good players, such a neat group, helped propel us to higher levels.

"Doaner was certainly one of those players."

Together, they helped collaborate on back-to-back Memorial Cup titles in Kamloops and would go on to exemplify at the pro level what's best about the game we love, both inside the arena and away from it, in the community.

"As far as the guys I've played with, in competitive terms,"estimates 17-year D-man Adrian Aucoin, a teammate of Iginla's here and Doan's out in the desert, "Jarome and Shane are 1-2. Or 2-1.

"Or maybe they're both just 1."

More than once in the lead-in to his celebratory night, Iginla has confessed he's at a loss as to what to expect.

On the heels of last Sunday, Doan can fill him in.

"It is," he says, "absolutely amazing. More emotional than I thought it would be. And probably a little more difficult than I thought it would be.

"But was a thousand times better than I dreamed it could be.

"The Coyotes did an unbelievable job. The people who spoke did an unbelievable job.

"I can't express how over-the-top excited my family and myself felt. Absolutely great."

A word of advice for an old pal as Iginla prepares to watch his rise to the hockey heavens?

"Enjoy it. Really enjoy it. By that, I mean my appreciation has only grown by the minute since it happened. It started to get overwhelming, almost got to be too much. Sometimes when things get that big you miss little details.

"Simple things that, looking back, mean so much. The people on the ice. People smiling at you. Moments.

"So don't miss a thing. Take it all in. Everything is spectacular."

Those seasons together in Kamloops helped shape both careers.

"With Husk and Tyson (Nash) and Jason Strudwick, Scott Ferguson, Darcy Tucker … that whole group pushed each other,'' says Doan. "We were all good for each other.

"And what Jarome's done in his career …

"I wish I could've scored like him. Then again, so do a lot of people. His desire to score was unbelievable. He could do everything. Unbelievable shot. His competitiveness, his willingness to do everything possible to score a goal was probably the most impressive thing. He set that standard and kept it there, forever. Once he'd set that standard, he never let himself off the hook. You play with guys who have great years and the nest year they're okay.

"With Jarome, every year was just incredible."

Tonight, Shane Doan will be tuning in. There's no place else he'd rather be.

"Oh, I'll be watching," vows Iginla's old pal. "My boys will be watching. We'll be excited for a special moment for a guy who's done so much for so many people around him.

"The hockey side of it is just the tip of the iceberg to the type of man he is. And to me that matters so much more than anything else.

"He's iconic. Among his friends he's iconic. In the hockey world he's iconic.

"You can't find anyone to say a negative word about him. A guy I enjoyed hanging out with as much as anybody.

"He's Iggy. Say his name and everyone in Canada knows exactly who you're talking about.

"He's just one of those guys. Those special guys."

Takes one to know one.

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