'Truly amazing honour': St. Albert arena renamed after NHL star Jarome Iginla
'Thank you for also having the ingredients to be a magical place for a kid to grow up'
NHL great Jarome Iginla has quite literally solidified his place in hockey history in his hometown of St. Albert, Alta.
The local Akinsdale Arena was renamed the Jarome Iginla Arena this weekend. Hundreds of people packed the stands Sunday to see Iginla accept the honour.
"Thank you all, St. Albert," he told the crowd. "This is a truly, truly amazing honour."
Iginla had a storied hockey career, from a scoring title in the NHL to gold medals in the Olympics.
"But it all comes back to here in St. Albert," he said. "In receiving this honour, it made me reflect on growing up here and how truly fortunate I was."
"Thank you for also having the ingredients to be a magical place for a kid to grow up."
Iginla recalled decades-old memories of the arena that now bears his name during his speech.
He reflected on tryouts for the local atom AAA team, and then waiting for the call at his grandparents' house.
Fast forward to when he was 15 years old, Iginla and a friend would knock on the arena doors late at night and, more often than not, an arena attendant would let them on the ice.
"We got better, but it also kept us on the right path," he said. "Some of my best memories are from youth sports."
Iginla went on to play 1,554 NHL games, tallying 625 goals and 675 assists. He spent 16 seasons of his 22-season NHL career with the Calgary Flames.
He helped Canada win two Olympic gold medals, scoring two goals in the 2002 victory. His pass to set up Sidney Crosby's overtime winner in the 2010 gold-medal game against the U.S. in Vancouver ranks among the greatest moments in Canadian hockey history.
The typical lines in the battle of Alberta collapsed in celebration of Iginla in St. Albert, with Flames jerseys in abundance outside the arena in Edmonton Oilers territory.
Iginla spent the afternoon signing autographs and mingling with fans alongside a barbecue and street hockey game.
He said the eponymous arena will take some getting used to.
"It's beyond my wildest dreams," he said.
St. Albert Mayor Cathy Heron offered the "Iggy Dome" as a potential shorthand for the arena, a play on Iginla's nickname and the Saddledome, home of the Flames.
"It means a lot to the community," Heron said.