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WHERE IT ALL BEGAN

A St. Albert arena was re-named in honour of a homegrown icon - Flames legend Jarome Iginla

by BRENDAN PARKER @BParkerTV / CalgaryFlames.com

It's not often an arena in the Edmonton area is packed full of Flames jerseys.

But it certainly was on Sunday.

That's how strong the connection is between Jarome Iginla and his hometown of St. Albert.

'Iggy' returned to the city where his hockey dream began and to an arena where he logged countless hours on the ice, that now bears his name.

Iginla and his family, as well as hundreds of fans, crammed into Jarome Iginla Arena - formerly Akinsdale Arena - for the official renaming ceremony.

 

Video: The Jarome Iginla Rink was unveiled on Sunday

 

"It's not something I ever truly imagined. Akinsdale was my favourite rink to play in," said Iginla. "I never dreamed it would be changed to - and it's kind of hard to say, too - the Jarome Iginla Arena. It's beyond my wildest dreams."

"I drove by here the other day because I heard the name was already on there, and I have to say I got a little choked up," his mother Susan Schuchard said. "Memories were flooding back because we spent a lot of time at this arena, and it's just so special."

"I was asking myself the other day which one is a greater honour: having his jersey retired or having an arena named after him. I tell you, I don't know," Jarome's father Elvis Iginla said. "It's a real humbling situation to have an arena named after you, and especially one that means a lot to Jarome. I'm just lost for words, and I couldn't be happier for him."

The pride of St. Albert was on full display was they celebrated their hometown hockey hero.

 

 

"It's amazing - honestly, we are so filled up with pride right now for him," St. Albert Mayor Cathy Heron said. "The fact that he's so gracious, he really did speak very humbly and he didn't want this to be a big event, because he so humble."

And that support throughout his entire career did not go unnoticed by the man himself.

"I want to thank you guys for your support, your encouragement, and you continued to cheer me on, even though I played for the Flames and I know a lot of you guys didn't like them," Iginla told the crowd during his speech.

"I love seeing all the Flames jerseys here."

Several former teammates and coaches were also on hand for the ceremony - including former Flames goaltender and fellow St. Albert native Jamie McLennan.

"To have a dear friend and someone who is a living legend put his name on it, couldn't be a more worthy person," McLennan said. "It was emotional just to sit in the background and see it, but it was awesome.

"I grew up at Akinsdale Arena, and now I know it's the Jarome Iginla Arena, and I couldn't be more proud for Jarome."

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