Reflecting from start to finish, Iginla officially announced his retirement from hockey with a press conference with the Calgary Flames.
"It's an amazing job," said Iginla, who had 1,300 points (625 goals, 675 assists) in 1,554 games from 1996-2017 for the Flames, Pittsburgh Penguins, Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche and Los Angeles Kings. "I remember starting hockey at age 7 and going to my first tryout and dreaming about how great it would be, and it's been even better. These 20 years in the NHL, it's been better. I'm excited for retirement and to be with my family, but I'm going to miss all of you and all of this.
"So many great memories."
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The 41-year-old recalled many of them in a ceremony with friends, family and former teammates at Scotiabank Saddledome, where he played for the Flames from 1996-2013.
As a teenager, Iginla won back-to-back Memorial Cup championships with Kamloops of the Western Hockey League, in 1994 and 1995. He was selected in the first round (No. 11) of the 1995 NHL Draft by the Dallas Stars before being traded to Calgary on Dec. 19, 1995. He won gold with Canada at the 1996 IIHF World Junior Championship, at the 1997 IIHF World Championship and at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics and 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
Iginla, who was voted to the NHL First All-Star Team three times (2002, 2008, 2009), won the Rocket Richard Trophy as the leading goal-scorer in the NHL twice (2002, 52 goals; 2004, 41 goals). He played in the NHL All-Star Game six times (2002-04, 2008, 2009, 2012) and won the Ted Lindsay Award as most outstanding player in the NHL as voted by members of the NHL Players' Association in 2002.
Video: "Thank you to the city of Calgary and the great fans"
What Iginla accomplished on the ice -- he's tied for 15th in NHL history in goals and one of 13 players in NHL history to score at least 30 in 12 seasons -- was only part of what made him an all-time great, former Flames teammate Martin Gelinas said.
"He's a caring, smiling, charismatic person," said Gelinas, who played with Iginla from 2002-04. "What we saw on the ice is that player, that force, that guy who could score goals. For me, what made Jarome a complete, complete package is what he did off the ice. What he did on the ice, we all saw it. We were all lucky enough to play with him and cherish those memories.
"But what he did off the ice was exceptional. Jarome had a gift of doing so with a simple autograph or shaking hands or going to a school and spending time with charities, calling someone out of the blue and making their day. That's what makes him the classiest, I think, person I've played with, on and off the ice."
That's just Iginla, longtime teammate Craig Conroy said.
"He's humble," said Conroy, teammates with Iginla from 2001-2010. "Everything he does behind the scenes, giving back to the community with his time, financially, helping people, that's the way Jarome always was."
Iginla won the King Clancy Memorial Award, given to the player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in his community, and NHL Foundation Award, given to the player who applies the core values of hockey --commitment, perseverance and teamwork -- to enrich the lives of people in his community, in 2004.
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He received the Mark Messier Leadership Award, given to the player who exemplifies great leadership qualities to his team, on and off the ice, in 2009.
"My grandpa took me to my first tryout," Iginla said. "We didn't know there were no jerseys and no socks (provided). So I skated around … everyone has their outfits and they're good players and playing for years. I'm skating around with no jersey and no socks. My grandpa had to run and get me a jersey from the sports store in St. Albert.
"While I was out there wheeling around, he brought back one, and I wasn't that thrilled to get it, but it was a Calgary Flames jersey. It might've been the last one left at the time. I think not wearing a jersey to start, and wearing a Flames jersey after, worked against me, and I ended up in the worst league."
Video: "The class of the field is Jarome Iginla ..."
Rough start. Strong finish.
"I think of kids … if there are any kids out there who are close and competing to make it and wondering if the sacrifices are worth it, I assure you they are," Iginla said. "Work as hard as you can, give it your best, it's a wonderful, wonderful game to be a part of all the way through.
"It's been an awesome, awesome experience. Thank you to my teammates. Thank you to the whole hockey community. It is a great one to be a part of. Thank you so much."
Photos courtesy: Rob McMorris/Calgary Flames