Former Calgary Flames captain Jarome Iginla returned to the Scotiabank Saddledome on Tuesday to play his first game as a member of the opposition. He didn't score, but his Boston Bruins pulled out a win for their veteran teammate.
Yes, he's humble. True, he's never been a showboat. But Jarome Iginla usually has a flair for the dramatic.
We've seen him make a good first impression, like he did when his junior career concluded in the spring of 1996. Twenty-four hours later, he was in a Flames sweater in front of a new fan base in Calgary, assisting on a Theo Fleury goal in a Stanley Cup first-round playoff game against the Chicago Blackhawks. In his next outing two nights later, Iginla scored his first goal.
Of course, there were his heroics in the Flames run to the 2004 Stanley Cup final. There was that brilliant Game 7 in the first round against the Vancouver Canucks, in which Iginla scored twice and it was a rebound from his shot that teammate Martin Gelinas banged in for the overtime winner.
There were his Flames club-record 83 regular-season game-winning goals. There was hard work on Sidney Crosby's golden goal at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
Iginla also made a memorable final impression in a Flames sweater, when he scored the game-winning goal in his last game with the Flames in Calgary.
Not this time, however. There was no Iggy Dance shown on the scoreboard. This time his new Boston Bruins teammates bailed out Iginla with two third-period goals in a 2-1 come-from-behind victory to add a nice finishing touch on the evening.
On Monday, he dined with his former Flames linemates Craig Conroy and Mike Cammalleri. On Tuesday, his night began with a loud greeting from those in the building when Iginla hit the ice for the pre-game warm-up.
During and after a first-rate scoreboard video tribute before the game the usually stoic Iginla appeared uncomfortable and emotional. He took several deep breaths as the Saddledome crowd, which included his mom Susan and dad Elvis, gave him a loud and long standing ovation and chanted "Iggy, Iggy, Iggy."
He had a couple of good chances in the first period and another one in the third period. But there was no dramatic goal this time. Instead, teammate Reilly Smith scored the big goal, the game-winner with less than five minutes left.
Still, the evening ended in a memorable fashion. He skated on to the ice to take a bow as the game's third star. When Iginla tried to get back on the bench and go down the tunnel, Bruins captain Zdeno Chara blocked his teammate's path and sent him back on the ice to take a victory lap.
By the time he returned to the bench, the rest of the Bruins had come back out to share the moment, and they made him take another turn around the ice.
"You kind of reflect on all the years you get to play for a great organization here in Calgary and all the fun I've had so far in my career, I feel very fortunate and blessed," Iginla said.
"My team was great to me and made it even more special for me and the guys on the other side, the Flames. I know at the start they're waiting for that and it's a little bit different, so I appreciate that. Definitely I wanted to come back and hoped it would be memorable and all the way around it was."
There was a buzz, not only in Calgary, but in the entire hockey world since the Bruins touched down in Cowtown on Monday afternoon. The Bruins welcomed the opportunity to share the homecoming experience with the 36-year-old Iginla.
This hasn't been an easy four days for the Bruins. They had that dirty and nasty game against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday. They lost one of the club's most popular guys in fourth-liner Shawn Thornton, who snapped in the Penguins game and faces a lengthy suspension.
The Bruins have dealt with a slew of injuries and the flu has gone through the team. There was the Iginla homecoming and on Saturday they return to Vancouver for the first time since the Bruins celebrated the Stanley Cup at the Rogers Arena on June 15, 2011.
Tim WharnsbyTim's worked the sports beat at The Globe and Mail and the Toronto Sun, specializing in Canada's one true sporting obsession - hockey. He knows the players, the coaches, the backroom boys and most importantly, the fans. That's what he brings to his stories. Knowledge, fairness and understanding are trademarks of a Wharnsby story. That's what you will get here as he writes for CBCSports.ca.
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