DENVER, CO -- Fitting, wouldn’t it be?
Jarome Iginla, sitting at 599 career NHL goals.
The Colorado Avalanche hosting the Calgary Flames.
Few things are as storybook as that.
The script, it writes itself.
“It’s kind of cool, for sure. It would be fun to get it against Calgary and stuff,” said Iginla, vying to become the 19th player in NHL history to hit the 600-goal plateau. “But at the same time when it happens, it happens. We know that as a team we need to climb back into a playoff spot and it’s an important game for us. That’s definitely a side story but not the focus by any means.”
It’s an understatement.
Only 18 others in the history of the NHL have broken the mark.
It is, understandably, a baffling number to most.
“You sit there and it’s hard to comprehend,” said Flames forward and local product Joe Colborne, who grew up a Calgary fan and credits Iginla as his favorite player growing up following the departure of Al MacInnis in 1994. “When you get up to talking about hundreds and hundreds of goals, it feels like it almost blends together. Like you said, when you sit down and actually do the math on it, it’s incredible.”
The math is.
Iginla is a 16-time 20-goal scorer, a 12-time 30-goal scorer, and a two-time 50-goal scorer.
He’s 19th all time in goals (599), 26th in power play goals (181) and 10th in game-winning goals (95).
His next one will put him on a list among names like Marcel Dionne, Phil Esposito and Mario Lemieux. It’ll move him within range of the likes of Bobby Hull, Dino Ciccarelli and Jarri Kurri.
“I definitely feel blessed to be close and hopefully get on it,” said Iginla, who scored No. 500 playing for the Flames against the Minnesota Wild on Jan. 7, 2012. “When I started I never thought I was going to get 600 or was thinking about if you get this many this year how many is it going to take. You just keep playing. It’s gone well and it’s been fun and stuff and I do think it’s cool. I remember being in Pee Wee and you’re watching Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Hockey and watching guys on that list play and you dream of getting to the NHL and it’s been a lot of fun and being able to play as long as I have with the players I have.”
All but 74 goals have came in a Flames jersey.
“I’ve coached him and what a classy athlete. He’s a great performer and he’s done so much for the Flames organization,” Calgary coach Bob Hartley said. “I’ve been following it and hopefully it’s not karma that he gets 600 against his old team but we’re going to try and make sure it doesn’t happen but if it does happen we have to tip our hat to him because he is a great pro, he’s a great man and he’s done a lot for the Flames and the City of Calgary.”
Iginla’s resume with Calgary is second-to-none.
He finished his career with the Flames as the franchise's all-time leader in games played (1,219), goals (525) and points (1,095).
“It’s crazy to think of the numbers he’s put up,” Flames center Matt Stajan said. “He’s a great player and one of the best that ever played for Calgary and he’s obviously going to be a Hall-of-Famer. He’s a great player and a great person and he’s got a lot left in him obviously. We’ll try and avoid him getting it tonight but you know he’s going to get 600 eventually. It’s great to see when a good person like Iggy reaches milestones like that.”
Iginla also has five goals with the Pittsburgh Penguins and 30 for the Boston Bruins.
He has 39 for the Avalanche, and eagerly awaits the 40th.
“It’s one of those things, I’m definitely thankful to be close to it and would love to get to it and hopefully enjoy getting it and everything but then move past it and not have to talk about it or think about it,” Iginla said. “The guys have been great and supportive but they probably want to see me get it so it would be over with, too. We’ll see what happens.”