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Hear from Iginla on Trade to Pittsburgh

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins

The Pittsburgh Penguins announced they had pulled a blockbuster trade to acquire Jarome Iginla from the Calgary Flames in the middle of the night (OK, it was actually 1:15 a.m. EST on Thursday morning).

Being the consummate professional that he is, Iginla – the future Hall of Famer and longtime captain of the Flames who had spent all 16 seasons of his NHL career in Calgary – went to the Saddledome the next day to speak with the local media there about the trade before coming to Pittsburgh (we’re still not sure when he will arrive, as he is dealing with immigration issues).


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Hear from Iginla on Trade to Pittsburgh
Ray Shero/Dan Bylsma on Iginla Trade

Here are the best parts of what Iginla had to say…

- The hockey world went to bed Wednesday night thinking Iginla – a healthy scratch in Calgary’s game against Colorado, breaking his 441-game ironman streak – would be a Boston Bruin, since virtually every media outlet had reported that he had been traded to Pittsburgh’s Eastern Conference rival. But they woke up stunned to learn that Iginla had waived his no-trade clause to go to the Penguins, who had been in the mix all along and was on the captain’s list of preferred destinations. Here’s what Iginla said about the situation…

“I wasn’t sure for sure (if I would be a Bruin). I did talk to (agent Don Meehan), who was talking to (Flames general manager Jay Feaster) regularly, maybe every couple hours or whatever. But I was reading the stuff, too. I wasn’t fully sure what was going on. But I knew Pittsburgh was in the mix with Boston. They’re both amazing cities, very successful organizations and great teams. As far as when it comes down to the choice I had and one or the other, it’s really hard as a player to pass up the opportunity to play on a team with Sid and Malkin and the roll that they’re on and the success that they had. I was very fortunate that the three teams that were kind of making a pitch or however you say it – proposals – and that they were interested. I was humbled. All great teams and I feel fortunate to have had the choice. But also at the same time, it wasn’t fully my choice. I wanted it to be a mutual thing. But when the Flames said they liked things, that they were happy with that, I was thrilled and thankful for the opportunity.”

More on that from Iginla…

“Ultimately, I talked to Jay and wanted it to be a mutual thing that they were happy with the deal that they got, but also if I was going to leave here, I’d love an opportunity – the best opportunity – to try to win. So it came down that I guess I had some choice in Pittsburgh. I think getting the opportunity, as a player, to go and play on a team with the two best players in the world and a team on a roll like they’re on and the success they’ve had, as a player, I wanted that opportunity. I’m thrilled and I’m thankful that they’ve given me that opportunity.”

- Iginla played on a line with Penguins captain Sidney Crosby at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, assisting on Crosby’s overtime winner in the gold-medal game against the United States. I watched the video of that goal after the trade went through, and I got chills hearing Crosby yell, “IGGY!” as he went to the net, getting a pass from the former Flame and beating Ryan Miller for the iconic goal. Iginla talked about if he’d spoken with his old linemate yet and his chances of winning a Cup here in Pittsburgh…

“No, I didn’t speak directly to him yesterday. But I’m very excited about it. I do really want to win a Stanley Cup. I would have obviously loved it to be in Calgary and I still would have wanted to win more, too, right? Once you win it, they say you just want to keep winning it. But I’d love to get my first crack at one. Pittsburgh is a great organization. They are sure rolling. They got the two best players in the world, Crosby and Malkin, and the firepower in the group and the chemistry they have, I look forward to just going and trying to find where I can help out and fit in, and do my best to play hard and try to help win.”

- Speaking of the Olympics, Iginla also played with Brenden Morrow and Marc-Andre Fleury during those Winter Games. He also won a gold medal with Team Canada at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, and he played in the 2006 Winter Olympics. During the 2004 World Cup of Hockey, Iginla served as an alternate captain for Canada’s gold-medal winning team, where he played on a line with current Penguins owner Mario Lemieux. When asked how he is going to fit in on a team as talented and deep as the Penguins, Iginla said he will draw on his experience from playing on national teams also filled with stars.

“When I go there, I’m not sure what my role will be. I’m fine with whatever that is. The way I’m trying to view it is kind of when you go to a Team Canada thing or an Olympics things, where you go and the coach tells you and you’re ready for any new role. That’s where I’m at. That’s the only experience I have in this type of situation. So that’s what I’m going to draw on and be ready in that and play and play hard and have fun being a part of it. But yeah, I think it will be fun to watch them up close. I haven’t been over in the East, just watched hockey on TV. It’ll be interesting to see it up close.”

- And finally, Iginla spoke fondly of the fans he’s played in front of in Calgary for the last 16 seasons, who have been wishing him all the best in Pittsburgh…

“It’s a good-sized city but it still feels small. Over the years, it definitely feels like you meet a lot of people here and a lot of the sports fans and a lot of the hockey fans. They’ve been very supportive of the team, which we appreciate, and also of myself personally. It’s a very difficult day and a feeling right now, because this has been my home and become home. I’ve grown up here. But also, I understand that it’s a new journey and I appreciate the fans that do wish me well to go and try to win. Pittsburgh is a great opportunity. It will be a great experience all the way around just getting to be part of their team and their locker room and learn new things. I’ve obviously only played here. I look forward to that. But I do appreciate that fans when they do say that they hope I go and win. I hope I do too, and be part of it. But I look forward to the challenge.”

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