Jarome Iginla chants echoed throughout the sold-out Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday night as the Calgary Flames retired the iconic No. 12 into the rafters next to Flames legends Lanny McDonald and Mike Vernon.
“Iggy, Iggy, Iggy.”
Flames fans made it clear how big of an impact Iginla made on the city of Calgary.
Iginla played in 16 seasons, 1,554 games, scored 625 goals and accumulated 1,300 points according to NHL statistics in a storied career unlike any other.
Craig Conroy, Flames assistant general manager, said Iginla is one of the greatest Flames ever if not the greatest.
So what made Iginla so great?
Jack of all trades
He was everything an NHL team needed; he could score, skate, hit, fight, and be a leader on and off the ice.
Iginla was known as one of the fiercest scorers in the league. He scored 50 or more goals twice in his career, firstly, in 2001-2002 (52), and secondly, in 2007-2008 (50).
He played an old school brand of hockey and was as tough as nails. If you were out on the ice against him you didn’t want to get caught with your head down. As nice of a guy he was off the ice he flipped a switch as soon as he stepped on the ice.
Most notably his historic fight in the 2003-2004 Stanley Cup final against Vincent Lecavalier of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Face of the franchise
Iginla had many accolades throughout his career including an Olympic gold medal, Art Ross Trophy, Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award, Maurice Richard Trophy, Ted Lindsay Award, and a King Clancy Memorial Trophy.
Just like any other Flames fan I always wondered when they would retire Iginla’s No. 12 because nobody should don the No. 12 ever again.
Jarome completely transformed the Flames franchise. He took them from a team that was struggling, to eventually the Flames first Stanley Cup appearance since 1989, and inspiring a new generation of Flames fans.
Inspiring a generation
Jarome Iginla was a once in a lifetime talent and I can say with confidence that there will never again be a player like him.
Going to games with my family as a kid I grew up a huge Iginla fan, in fact, he was my first ever Flames jersey.
As a new hockey fan, in 2004 I remember watching game seven of the Stanley Cup final. From that point on, win or lose, I knew I was a Flames fan for life.
Watching Iginla play growing up was a great privilege. To me he wasn’t just a hockey player, he was my hero, and I wanted to be just like him.
Looking back on it now you couldn’t really find a better role model. Iggy was humble, polite, hardworking, and made countless charitable donations and volunteer work.
With an Iginla poster hanging up in my room, and countless Flames merchandise I dreamt of one day playing in the NHL.
From Flames fans everywhere, thank you for everything Jarome, and enjoy retirement. We can’t wait to see what you do next.
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