BOSTON -- Although forward Jarome Iginla and the Colorado Avalanche left TD Garden on Monday with two points in the standings, the veteran right wing found out that he's not much of a villain in the eyes of Boston Bruins fans.
Former Bruins Phil Kessel, Tim Thomas and Tyler Seguin have returned to the Garden in recent years and heard jeers from the crowd. Iginla, who left the Bruins as an unrestricted free agent over the summer after one season wearing black and gold, received a light cheer when the starting lineups were announced before the Avalanche's 2-1 victory. He barely heard a peep the rest of the night.
The win and the reception made Iginla's first game against the Bruins since he shared the Boston team lead with 30 goals last season a success.
"You know what, it was good," said Iginla, who was plus-1 in 17:17 of ice time. "I didn't get booed every time I touched the puck. So I appreciated that. And you know there were some fans that were good. Good to see, over the course of the year, you see some very familiar faces around the building and warmup and you get in routines and stuff. And it was good to see. I saw some of the familiar ones there. And I enjoyed that. You know I'll remember these days. Guys don't go through it very much when you go back to your old [arena]. But I'm sure everybody remembers; it's a little bit different playing against the guys on the other side. But it was a fun game and obviously ended well for us."
The Avalanche won on a goal by forward Daniel Briere with 0.4 left on the clock; Colorado hadn't scored a goal prior to facing Boston. The Bruins haven't been scoring much lately either, and have four goals in four games (one win and three regulation losses). Although the Bruins might turn their offense around soon, they seem to be missing Iginla for now.
Unfortunately for the Bruins, Iginla didn't see any sense in staying in Boston based on the Bruins' situation within the NHL salary cap.
Iginla played the 2013-14 season on a one-year contract that carried an NHL salary-cap charge of $1.8 million but included $4.2 million in bonuses. Iginla earned those bonuses and the Bruins are being charged for them this season. General manager Peter Chiarelli couldn't offer Iginla more than a similar deal in the summer if he wanted to also re-sign other key players to fill out the team and save some space for the 2015-16 season.
Iginla said he had to make the best decision for his three children.
"Yeah and it wasn't just the bonus and the one-year thing. It was just that the cap tightens up," Iginla said. "The cap didn't go up as much as everybody expected. And then the following year it's a bigger risk because it's more than financially, for myself having to move my kids in school after they've been here for two years, and they liked it after one, I figured if we're going to move we want to move one more time for them and not [wait]. So that was much more of the risk than it was the financial stuff."
Regardless of Iginla's reasons for leaving, he left his mark on the Bruins in his one season.
"I think obviously he might've been one of the best teammates I've had in my life," Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton said. "So he loved hockey, loved the game and loved being around the rink and wanted to get better. So it's crazy to see somebody that with that many goals and experience accomplishments trying to get better every day. So I probably took that no matter how good you are, you still need to improve and get better. So I learned that from him."