Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli was a few hours removed from his big seven-player trade with the Dallas Stars, one that landed him dependable veteran Loui Eriksson, when his phone rang on Thursday.
On the other end was player-agent Don Meehan.
Meehan called to see if Chiarelli had any interest in Meehan's client, unrestricted free agent Jarome Iginla. The Boston GM could not believe what he just heard.
"I raised my eyebrows and said, 'Really?'" Chiarelli recalled on Saturday, less than 24 hours after he inked Iginla to a one-year contract that could be worth as much as $6-million if the 36-year-old right wing reaches each of his bonuses.
Iginla will be a perfect fit with the Stanley Cup finalists, but you can understand Chiarelli's reaction when Meehan called.
Three months ago, Chiarelli thought he had a deal with the Calgary Flames to bring Iginla to Boston at the trade deadline. But faced with a decision because of his no-movement clause, Iginla instead chose to join the Pittsburgh Penguins.
We all know how that worked out. The Bruins were bitter about Iginla's decision and took out their fury with an impressive sweep of Iginla and the mighty Penguins in the East final.
Iginla came away impressed. He loved the Bruins brand of play, and let's face it, Iginla fits in better with Boston's blue-collar approach than the Penguins firebrand ways.
So when it became apparent that he was no longer in the Penguins' plans because of their swollen payroll, he asked Meehan to look into the possibility of landing in Boston.
Iginla was smitten with Boston.
Besides being wowed by the Bruins dogged ways in the East final, the former Flames captain did his own due diligence. He talked to his former Calgary teammate Andrew Ference, who departed Boston for Edmonton through free agency on Friday, and others to find out about the team and the city.
Everything he heard from Ference and friends was positive.
"I love the way they play," Iginla said on Saturday. "They are extremely hard to play against, and they have lots of grit and determination.
"I feel like there's a great chance for me to win here."
With the loss of Ference, Nathan Horton to free agency and Rich Peverley in the trade to Dallas, the Bruins could use a good leader and right wing like Iginla.
Chiarelli also was midstream in rebuilding his right side. Gone was Horton to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Gone was Tyler Seguin in the Stars trade. Gone was veteran Jaromir Jagr, who no longer fit in the Bruins plans.
The Bruins also failed to land Daniel Alfredsson, who chose the Detroit Red Wings, and missed out on a chance to get a piece from their 2010-11 Stanley Cup-championship team when Michael Ryder chose the New Jersey Devils over Boston.
Iginla, who was forced to play a lot of left wing in Pittsburgh, is way more comfortable on the right side, and now he'll get an opportunity to play alongside either centres David Krejci or Patrice Bergeron with the Bruins.
There is little doubt that Iginla still can contribute in a big way. He's durable and he's only two years removed from a 43-goal season. Since the 2004-05 cancelled season, Iginla ranks among the game's elite goal scorers.
Iginla's incentive-laiden deal calls for a $3.7-million games-played bonus and a $500,000 goal-scoring and playoff-performance bonus.
The Stanley Cup finalists are rounding into form. Chiarelli confirmed that he's close to signing Bergeron and goalie Tuukka Rask to long-term extensions. The Bruins also have inked free-agent goalie Chad Johnson, a Calgary native who played a handful of games for the Phoenix Coyotes last year, after backup Anton Khudobin signed with the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday.
Iginla will, no doubt, help the cause.
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