After an evening full of speculation that Jarome Iginla was on his way to joining the Boston Bruins, the trade changed course late Wednesday night and the six-time all-star wound up wearing another black and gold jersey.
The Calgary Flames traded their captain and face of the franchise to the Eastern Conference leading Pittsburgh Penguins, who continue to add to an already potent lineup.
Iginla is the third player the Penguins have acquired in the past week without having to part with anyone off their current roster or any of their top prospects.
“They’ve got a pretty deep team over there with a lot of good players,” Troy Brouwer said. “To not give up an actual roster player means that they’re making a push for it as everyone can see to try and win. I guess they’re going to worry about later, later.”
The Penguins gave up a first-round pick in 2013 and a pair of mid-level prospects for Iginla, who valued an opportunity to play for a Stanley Cup contender.
“I’d love to get my first crack at one Cup,” Iginla told reporters in Calgary on Thursday. “Pittsburgh has the two best players in the world. It’s really hard as a player to pass up the opportunity to play on a team with Sid and Malkin.”
Iginla, 35, has spent his entire 16-year NHL career with the Flames, recording 525 goals and 570 assists in 1,218 games.
It’s going to be strange for many to see him in a jersey that isn’t adorned with the flaming C logo including Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner, who played junior hockey with the Western Hockey League’s Calgary Hitmen and makes his offseason home there. Alzner got to know Iginla while working out in Calgary during the lockout and wishes him well in Pittsburgh.
“To see him in any jersey besides a Flames jersey is going to be weird for everybody, I think. He’s the most popular guy in that city, the face of that city. It’s just very strange that he’s not going to be a Flame anymore,” Alzner said. “But at the same time you get really happy for him. I think all his teammates are really happy. They’re mad that their captain’s gone and their best player’s gone, but you want to see a guy like that succeed. It’s nice to see him go to a good team like Pittsburgh.”
In the span of four days the Penguins have added Iginla, left wing Brenden Morrow and defensemen Douglas Murray.
“They’re obviously making some moves. Maybe they’re not happy with their lineup, deep down,” Coach Adam Oates said. “Who knows? Maybe they’re trying to get them for another reason.”
While it’s clear Pittsburgh, which will play for its 14th straight win Thursday night against Winnipeg, is loading up for a playoff run, it’s always tough to tell how such significant additions might impact a dressing room, especially when all of the new players have strong personalities and leadership skills. Iginla and Morrow were captains for Calgary and Dallas, respectively, while Murray was a respected presence for San Jose.
The Capitals learned that lesson twice, in 2010 and 2011, when additions they made at the deadline changed the complexion of the lineup and the mood in the dressing room. In 2010 Washington added Joe Corvo, Scott Walker and Eric Belanger at the deadline and before the 2011 deadline the team traded for Jason Arnott and Dennis Wideman and picked up Marco Sturm.
Oates went through a similar scenario during his career when the Capitals traded him to Philadelphia before the deadline in 2002, and he didn’t have a smooth transition.
“It’s tough. I got traded at the deadline and I don’t think it helped. And everybody’s got a different personality,” Oates said. “Some guys can walk right into a new locker room and it doesn’t bug them. It’s like they’ve been there the whole time. And some guys need time to fit in and get acclimated. It’s [Iginla’s] first trade so it could be difficult for him. You never know. I’m sure he’s got some emotional ties. He’s finally letting go. It’s not necessarily that easy a thing.”