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Jarome Iginla to wear No. 88 with Kings

Forward will honor Wayne Gretzky, who was traded to Los Angeles that year

by Lisa Dillman / NHL.com Staff Writer

LOS ANGELES -- Jarome Iginla could have asked new Los Angeles Kings teammate Marian Gaborik if he might be willing to give up No. 12.

After all, Gaborik wore No. 10 when he was with the Minnesota Wild and during his time with the New York Rangers.

Not a chance.

"That's his number and he's been very successful with it," said Iginla, who was traded from the Colorado Avalanche to the Kings for a conditional draft pick on Wednesday. "He's played a long time, too. That's his and I wouldn't even want to ask."

The solution rested in a moment from Iginla's childhood in Edmonton.

"True story," Iginla said. "One of the only jerseys I ever bought was when (Wayne) Gretzky got traded to the Kings. I was a huge Oiler fan growing up and I bought a Kings jersey and put on No. 88 and I put my name on the back. I was about 10 years old."

Video: The NHL Tonight crew talks about the Iginla trade

Indeed, Iginla will be wearing No. 88 when he makes his debut against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday at Staples Center (10:30 p.m. ET; FS-W, SNO, NHL.TV).

Where others might see a possible disappointment, Iginla managed to find opportunity and answers.

Then and now.

If this is to be his last waltz, NHL style, Iginla, 39, is giving it a go with his customary class and will be pushed along by a familiar face: Kings coach Darryl Sutter.

Sutter and Iginla were together in Calgary and forged a bond when the Flames reached the Stanley Cup Final in 2004 and lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning in seven games. Sutter went on to win two Stanley Cup championships, in 2012 and 2014, with the Kings, and Iginla went on to have a Hall of Fame career.

His resume is still missing the Stanley Cup despite decent shots in Pittsburgh and Boston after leaving Calgary in 2013. The Avalanche were more than willing to accommodate Iginla at the trade deadline.

"It's a respect thing," Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic said on a conference call. "It's a respect for Jarome Iginla. It's respect for him as a person, him as a hockey player. He's a Hall of Fame hockey player for his career. In discussing with him, I wanted to give him an opportunity in a great place where he wanted to go."

Iginla's goal production has slipped from 29 two seasons ago to eight this season with the last-place Avalanche. He is a minus-21 in 61 games.

"I hadn't gone through that in my career," Iginla said. "I've missed the playoffs a number of times but at the end of the year you're battling and you're close, but this was a tough go all the way around … it was something that hopefully the young guys never have to experience again and (can) learn from it."

Video: Kings acquire Jarome Iginla from Avalanche

The Kings were criticized last season when they brought in another longtime NHL star, Vincent Lecavalier, in a trade with the Philadelphia Flyers. Unlike Iginla, Lecavalier wasn't even playing for his old team. But they managed to get 10 goals and seven assists out of him in 42 games.

General manager Dean Lombardi referenced an older example involving defenseman Rob Blake, now the Kings' assistant GM.

"We weren't a very good team," Lombardi said about his first season as GM in 2006-07. "Quite frankly, Blakey wasn't very good either. A guy of his stature who has always played on competitive teams, won a Stanley Cup in Colorado, tries to come back to L.A., and as a lot of you saw at the time we had some Gong Shows going. He wasn't very good. It looked like he was done.

"… Then when he went to San Jose and they had a really good team, he was one of their best players. You would have never said that from watching him [in L.A.].

"Taking [Iginla] out of [Colorado], giving him a fresh start and having the chance to win again hopefully ignites him, very similar to what happened to Blakey. You see that all the time. It's really hard for top players who have had great success, at the end of their careers, to play on teams that are struggling."

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