ST. PAUL, MN --
June 25, 2011 epitomizes the word bittersweet for Calgary Flames captain Jarome Iginla
On one hand, one of his closest friends on the team, winger Alex Tanguay
, signed a five-year extension with the club. The two were linemates last season and their instantaneous chemistry led to them combining for 155 points through 82 games.
On the other hand, long-time teammate Robyn Regehr was dealt to the Buffalo Sabres in a move that brought blueliner Chris Butler
and forward Paul Byron
"It's different," Iginla said when asked about Regehr leaving the Flames, adding it hadn't quite sunken in yet for him. "I've played with him for a long time. He's a great competitor, he's a tough guy to play against, a good teammate and a leader on our team for a long time."
When questioned about Tanguay's choice to re-sign with the Flames, Iginla's spirits lifted and he couldn't keep the enthusiasm out of his voice.
"I'm very, very excited. To be able to come back and sign a long-term deal that works for him and the team ... it's just great."
Iginla acknowledged how Tanguay's presence on his line helped him reach the 40-goal mark for a fourth time in his career. He's looking forward to seeing just how much he and Tanguay can build off of what he calls "a very productive" year.
"I was very fortunate to get the chance to play with him. He's one of the best passers, without question, in the league."
The captain credits Tanguay for turning around the team's season around when the Flames started their remarkable comeback midway through the year.
"He ended up quarterbacking our power play. Our power play really improved. In the last 40 or 50 games, it was top five in the league for sure and we ended up top 10 overall I think. And he was a big part of that.
"You need a power play to have success and it's gotten better with him. There's chemistry with him and Gio there, working together on one of the units. You'd like to come back and build on that success as opposed to finding something else."
Flames general manager Jay Feaster said his captain had a hand in helping both sides reach an agreement, saying he called Craig Conroy "about 55 times a day" to get a read on where the talks were headed and to tell Conroy to make sure a deal was done. Iginla admitted he may have been overly persistant in that regard.
"I was just trying to see where it was at!" he chuckled. "I probably bugged both of them as far as seeing where they were at. It was something that I was thrilled (with) when they were able to work something out on both sides.
"I definitely couldn't be happier when I heard it this morning."