At 1:25 a.m. Thursday morning the Pittsburgh Penguins and Calgary Flames jointly announced a blockbuster trade. The Penguins acquired seven-time All-Star and long-time Flames captain Jarome Iginla in exchange for prospects Ben Hanowski, Kenny Agostino and a 2013 first-round pick.
The world was stunned. Especially since nearly every major media outlet had reported that Iginla had been traded to the Boston Bruins. It seemed to everyone that Penguins general manager Ray Shero swooped in at the last minute to snatch Iginla from the Bruins. But actually, the trade was the culmination of weeks and weeks of negotiations and maneuvering.
Iginla, 35, will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season. The Flames had a hard decision to make regarding their captain’s future: sign him to a contract extension; hope for a playoff run with him and let him walk at the end of the year; or trade him and get some assets in return.
Shero first approached Flames general manager Jay Feaster a few weeks ago and inquired about Iginla’s status.
“I was talking to Jay and said if you’re ever going to move Iginla, we would be interested,” Shero said. “They were trying to see what they would do.”
Shero once again approached Feaster at last week’s NHL general managers meetings in Toronto. It was then a few pieces started being discussed.
“(Feaster and I) talked about scenarios if they moved him, what his timeframe was,” Shero said. “It was different from our timeframe, but we kept at it.”
The Penguins weren’t sitting around and waiting. A few days after the meetings Shero pulled the trigger on two trades – landing veteran Brenden Morrow from Dallas Sunday and punishing defenseman Douglas Murray from San Jose on Monday. After completing the two deals, Shero made another call to Feaster to reiterate that the Penguins were still interested in acquiring Iginla.
Feaster finally decided that it was best for the Flames franchise to trade Iginla for assets instead of losing him for nothing. Talks between Feaster and possible teams started heating up Tuesday, including with the Penguins.
Shero and Feaster talked before the Penguins’ 1-0 victory Tuesday night against the Montreal Canadiens. It was in those discussions that the trade started to take shape.
“Over the last day or so it became apparent they were going to move him,” Shero said. “We started getting into more names. We talked before our game last night and early (Wednesday) morning and throughout the day.”
The two sides negotiated as Wednesday morning receded into evening. In the late, late hours, the Penguins and Flames had the framework for agreement. The Penguins would get Iginla in exchange for a 2013 first-round pick and prospects Ben Hanowski and Kenny Agostino. But the deal wasn’t finalized.
“The first-round pick was very important for them,” Shero said. “We were prepared to do that for Jarome Iginla. We worked on a number different scenarios player-wise. Ended up with two good college prospects. That’s the price for Jarome Iginla. That’s what you have to do. That’s what we did.”
According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, the Flames had deals on the table from the Penguins and Bruins – which sparked all the reports that Iginla was headed to Boston. But Iginla had to waive his no-trade clause as a part of any deal and had the power to pick his destination.
He chose Pittsburgh.
“He agreed to waive and come to Pittsburgh,” Shero said. “The trade conference call was done with the league. Everything was final.”
And Iginla was a Penguin.