On June 24, 2020 the Hockey Hall of Fame has officially inducted ex-Calgary Flame captain and Alberta native Jarome Iginla. The announcement comes during Iginla’s first year of eligibility for the Hall of Fame and signals Iginla’s contribution to the sport of hockey on and off the ice. Iginla has played 1554 NHL career games and was able to rack up 625 goals and 675 assists for a total of 1300 points and is also well-known for his international play after winning two Olympic Gold medals. Iginla has also won several NHL awards and is regarded as one of the nicest NHL superstars of all time.
Iginla was originally selected by the Dallas Stars in the first round (No. 11) of the 1995 NHL Draft. The Stars picked the 18-year-old forward after his 33-goal, 71-point season and after scoring five goals to help his junior team, the Kamloops Blazers, win its second straight Memorial Cup championship; a team he later became an owner of.
While playing his third season for Kamloops, Iginla was traded to the Flames by the Stars along with center Corey Millen for center Joe Nieuwendyk, who helped the Flames win their first and only Stanley Cup in 1989.
When Iginla first arrived in Calgary, he wore No. 24 and became the first 18-year-old to play for Calgary since Dan Quinn in 1983 when he stepped onto the ice for Game 3 in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Iginla got an assist in Game 3 and scored a goal in Game 4. But, the Flames were swept by the Chicago Blackhawks.
Then, in 1996-97 Iginla played his first NHL season in Calgary and was able to reach the 50-point mark in his debut season. In that season, he began wearing his infamous No. 12 and scored his first NHL regular season goal on Oct. 5 against the Vancouver Canucks. He finished his first season with 50 points and came in second place for the Calder Trophy as top rookie in the NHL.
The early 2000s were a busy time for a young Iginla. In 2001, he became a 30-goal scorer for the first time. In 2002, Iginla scored two goals in Canada’s 5-2 victory against the United States in the gold medal game at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. Iginla also reached 50 goals in a season for the first time in his NHL career in 2002. And in 2003, Iginla became the 19th captain in Flames history, succeeding Bob Boughner and Craig Conroy, who were co-captains since Feb. 4, 2002.
In Calgary’s regular-season finale, against the Anaheim Ducks, Iginla scored his 41st, giving him a share of the Rocket Richard Trophy as NHL goals leader with Ilya Kovalchuk and Rick Nash. Under Iginla’s leadership, the Flames finish 42-30-3 and qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 1996, when Iginla entered the league.
In the 2004 playoffs, Iginla scored his NHL-high 13th goal of the 2004 playoffs, and the visiting Flames defeat the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2 in overtime in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final to take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series. However, the Flames lose 3-2 in the second overtime in Game 6 in Calgary and lose a couple nights later 2-1 in Game 7 in Tampa on June 7. This marked the only time in Iginla’s career where he reached the Cup Final.
In 2006, Iginla scores his 300th NHL goal and gets his 600th point. And four years, later Iginla reaches several other major career milestone; his 400th NHL goal and his 831st point, which moved him past Theo Fleury for most in Flames history. Iginla finished the season with 89 points and he is voted to the NHL First All-Star Team for the third time.
The year 2010 also became the moment that cemented Iginla as one of Canada’s favourite and most decorated hockey players of all time. Iginla made a pass to Sidney Crosby, who beat goalie Ryan Miller in overtime to give Canada a 3-2 victory against the U.S. in the gold medal game of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. It was the “Iggy heard around the world” as Iginla had his back to the play and didn’t see Crosby, but he heard Crosby yell for the pass, which Iginla executed perfectly before being knocked down.
Iginla gets his 1,000th NHL point in 2011 when he scores the game-winning goal in a 3-2 victory at the St. Louis Blues. He is the 77th player in NHL history to reach the milestone. On Jan. 7, 2012, Iginla scored his 500th NHL goal in the third period in a 3-1 win against the Wild. He is the 42nd player in NHL history to score 500 goals, the 15th to do so for one team, according to NHL.com.
Iginla made his mark in Calgary and throughout the league. After missing playoffs for a fifth straight season, Iginla and the Flames finally parted ways when Iginla was traded to Pittsburgh in 2012-13. Iginla went on to play with four other franchises aside from the Flames; the Pittsburgh Penguins, Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche and the Los Angeles Kings.
On April 9, 2017 Iginla has an assist in what turns out to be his last NHL game against the Anaheim Ducks. During the summer of 2018, Iginla announces his retirement with the Flames, officially finishing his NHL career.
The Flames retired Iginla’s No. 12 jersey in a pre-game ceremony on Mar. 2, 2019. The ceremony, hosted by Peter Maher saw several ex-Flames and teammates there to celebrate the career of Calgary’s greatest player of all time, including Mike Cammalleri, Mike Commodore, Andrew Ference, Jamie McLennan and Rhett Warrener. Also in attendance, were Lanny McDonald and Mike Vernon, the only two other players to have their jerseys retired by the organization. The celebration seemed to put a nice cap on what was one of the most decorated NHL careers of all time.
“We’re here to pay tribute to one of the greatest Flames of all time – if not the greatest… sorry Lanny,” said ex-teammate Craig Conroy, adding how Iginla became a legend in the NHL.
And Conroy put it best when he said, “First the rafters – next stop, Toronto and the Hall of Fame.”
Now, he’s there. Congratulations Iggy.