The mess surrounding the Boston Bruins, Pittsburgh Penguins and Calgary Flames during the pursuit of a trade for Jarome Iginla overflowed so much near the NHL Trade Deadline that Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli felt compelled to hold a press conference to discuss a deal he didn't make.
Ultimately, Iginla wound up with the Penguins, Chiarelli felt misled by Flames general manager Jay Feaster, and all of Boston felt spurned by Iginla, who waived his no-trade clause to join the Pittsburgh Penguins.
So during the recent free-agent interview process, a call from Iginla's agent took Chiarelli by surprise.
"When Don Meehan called, I raised my eyebrows and I said, 'Really?' I was excited," Chiarelli said during a conference call Saturday to introduce Iginla as the newest Bruins player.
Chiarelli stressed he had no ill feelings toward Iginla, who signed a one-year, incentive-laden contract that will carry a $1.8 million salary-cap charge in 2013-14. Iginla can achieve $4.2 million in performance bonuses.
"I don't want to go through the events from the trade deadline, but I can tell you this: My opinion of him as a person and a player has not changed since then," Chiarelli said. "We tried to get him then and we're very happy to have him now. He's a highly motivated, elite player, and we look forward to him helping us win the Cup again."
Iginla has never won the Stanley Cup and has been to the Final once in his 16 NHL seasons. The right wing said he talked to a few teams but ultimately decided the Bruins were right for him this time around.
"My family and I are very, very excited to be joining the Bruins organization. ... I love the way they play," Iginla said. "I know there's going to be questions and stuff as far as choices and things like that. But they were always a team, besides not being in Calgary, that if I was to move that I would want to play for. And I know that sounds maybe a little bit different when at the deadline, not going to Boston, but it was a tough decision and it wasn't one I took lightly or easily. And Boston and [Pittsburgh] were the two out of 30 teams that I was actually down to, and definitely have respect for both of them and [am] thrilled to be part of the Boston organization."
Iginla, who has scored 530 goals in 1,232 NHL regular-season games, didn't look that elite in the Eastern Conference Final, when the Bruins held him pointless during a four-game sweep of the Penguins. Iginla finished the 2013 regular season with 14 goals and 19 assists in 44 games with Calgary and Pittsburgh, and he had 12 points (four goals) in 11 games before facing the Bruins.
At 36, he said he still thinks he can be a major contributor to the Bruins, who need to make up for the losses of forwards Nathan Horton and Tyler Seguin, who combined for 29 goals last season. Recently acquired wing Loui Eriksson also will be asked to pick up some of the slack.
"I still feel very good," Iginla said. "I think last year was an average year, and I know as you get older, once you have one, that people start thinking, 'Oh, you know, how much is left in the tank?' and stuff. I still feel great. ... If you look over my career, I've had some average years. I think I'm going to bounce back. And I don't think it was a bad year. I think I got better, and also it was a half of a season, as far as the regular season. It's fun to get back into the playoffs and stuff.
"So, no, I expect to play well and I expect to produce and be good for the Bruins and help contribute to a great regular season and be a contending team. And you know the goal is to win and all that, but it's the whole process through, and obviously you can't tell who's going to win at the start. But I think the Bruins are, year in and year out, a very, very competitive, hard team to play against. And I think I can be a part of that and be very effective still. I don't expect a lot less, I guess ... I expect to be very good this year."