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Decade Review: Jarome Iginla Trade

by Sam Kasan @PensInsideScoop / Pittsburgh Penguins

The clock had passed midnight on a late March evening in 2013. I was about to lay down for the night when my phone rang. It was Penguins director of communications Jen Bullano. I knew immediately something big was happening.

"We traded for Jarome Iginla." 

I was in disbelief. 

Jarome Iginla was the biggest name on the NHL trade market. The 35-year-old had played 16 seasons with the Calgary Flames and was a sure Hall of Famer. His mantle supported the weight of an Art Ross trophy (NHL scoring champion), two 'Rocket' Richard trophies (goal-scoring champion), one Lester Pearson award, one King Clancy trophy, one Mark Messier Leader of the Year and an Olympic gold medal. Not to mention several spots on the NHL's First or Second All-Star Team.  

It wasn't inconceivable that Pittsburgh had acquired Iginla. I knew that the team had been in pursuit of him for some time, and that the Penguins were on his short list of three destinations. 

I was in disbelief because I had been following Twitter the entire evening and most of the revered hockey pundits that predict these things - and are typically accurate in their assertions - said that Iginla was being traded to Boston. 

"Everyone is wrong," Bullano assured me. 

My assignment from there was pretty simple: prepare a tweet for the Penguins main account, and wait. The plan was for Flames general manager Jay Feaster to announce the trade to the gathered media contingent in Calgary. After his announcement, the Flames would tweet the trade. I would follow their lead. 

But mostly, I waited. And watched. 

It would take over an hour from the moment I was notified until Feaster would shock the hockey world. And in that time, I would watch all of hockey Twitter react to Iginla being traded - to Boston.

Tweet from @penguins: Shero: First people I called were my kids to tell them we got Iginla. They said 'No you didn't. We saw on TV he's going somewhere else.'

Everyone from national pundits to local media to fans were giving their opinions on the trade and the fallout. I knew they were all wrong, but all I could do was wait. And wait.  

Finally, Feaster made his way to the podium at 11:30 PM MST. That would be 1:30 AM EST. After some opening comments about Iginla and the decision to make a trade, Feaster delivered:

"We have concluded a deal this evening with the Pittsburgh Penguins. We've traded Jarome Iginla to Pittsburgh…"

Tweet: Send.  

Tweet from @penguins: BREAKING NEWS: #Pens acquired Jarome Iginla from Calgary for Ben Hanowski, Kenny Agostino and 2013 first-round pick

Tweet from @penguins: Here are the full details on the #Pens acquisition of Jarome Iginla: http://t.co/6ZU8Tla0r2

What followed was an avalanche of Penguins fans flooding social media with their excitement. The fan base was as fired up as I've ever seen it, and Iginla hadn't played a single game yet. That enthusiasm was shared by Flames fans who pushed a "Win it for Iggy" mantra.  

That excitement didn't waver the entire evening. Not when I finished speaking with general manager Ray Shero at 2:30 AM. Not when I published my first story on the website at 3:15 AM. Not when I published my third and final story at 6 AM. 

As I finally lay down for the night (day!), a new batch of Penguins fans were waking to the news. Most had gone to bed thinking Iginla was a Boston Bruin only to discover in the morning that the Penguins had swooped in and netted the biggest prize of the NHL's trade deadline. 

Iginla would make his Penguins debut a few days later in an afternoon contest against the New York Islanders on Easter weekend. It was a debut that nearly didn't happen due to an immigration issue, flight troubles and his equipment getting lost.

Read more here.

As the game got underway, fans shared the hashtag #IggyFirsts in celebration of every minor and hilarious milestone, including first warmup, first time using a towel as a Penguin, first interview with Dan Potash, first drink from the water bottle, first puck drop, first offside. 

(Iginla's first game took an ugly turn in the opening minutes when defenseman Brooks Orpik's shot broke captain Sidney Crosby's jaw). 

But most importantly, it was also Iggy's first win. Pittsburgh triumphed, 2-0, to win its 15th straight game and go a perfect 10-0 in the month of March. The Penguins were steamrolling teams and adding the Canadian icon seemed to make them an unstoppable juggernaut. 

The fans believed this team was destined to win a Stanley Cup. Those beliefs would come to an end at the hands of the Bruins in the Eastern Conference Final. 

Despite how things ended, I don't think any Penguins fan will ever forget the joy surrounding the team after the Iginla trade and the months that followed. I had to force myself to go to sleep at 7 AM on that unforgettable day, but the adrenaline rush could have kept me awake for a week. 

Everyone remembers where they were when they found out about the Iginla trade. They remember the first time seeing him in a Penguins uniform. And they remember the sense that anything was possible. 

The Penguins were arguably the most successful NHL franchise over the last decade (2010-19). They made the playoffs every season while becoming the first team to win back-to-back Stanley Cups in nearly 20 years. The team provided many memorable moments over that 10-year span. In this Decade Review series website writers Sam Kasan and Michelle Crechiolo, who have been with the team the entire time, highlight the 10 storylines and moments that stand out to them from the past 10 years. 

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