It was a night to remember for Jarome Iginla.
In his return to Calgary, the former Flames captain was honored with an emotional pregame tribute that included a video package and a ceremonial faceoff with current Flames captain Mark Giordano for a local charity. The ceremony was capped off by a standing ovation for Iginla, who was dealt to the Pittsburgh Penguins in March.
Fast forward nine months later where Iginla is donning a different kind of Black and Gold after signing with the Bruins in the off-season. From the get-go, he had this day circled on his calendar and with good reason.
Although just 24 hours prior to Tuesday’s tilt, Iginla didn’t know what to expect from the 19,000-plus in attendance at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
“I don’t know what to expect. I hope it’s positive,” Iginla said to a sea of reporters after Monday’s practice. “I had great experiences here. I hope it’s positive. I don’t know, but I don’t have a lot of expectations or anything. I just want to enjoy the moment.”
Twenty-four hours later, Iginla enjoyed that moment.
In his return to Calgary during the Bruins 2-1 win behind a third period comeback, Iginla tallied two hits and fired four shots in 21:36 of ice time. Even with being held off the scoresheet, Iginla certainly didn’t mind being shut out on this night.
The festivities didn’t end there, though. Afterwards, Iginla was named the third star of the game and came out for a traditional wave to the crowd. As he started to skate back towards the visiting locker room, captain Zdeno Chara and the Bruins returned to the bench to share their appreciation and made the 36-year old skate on the Saddledome ice one more time for a pretty chilling curtain call.
“The guys came out and wouldn’t let me off the ice,” said a smiling Iginla. “I went for one little loop and they were like ‘No, no, you’ve got to go one more’ and they made me go one more, too. That was fun and nice of the fans. They probably wanted me off the ice by then, too.”
Whether Flames fans wanted Iginla off the ice or not is debatable, especially given his reception.
What isn’t debatable, though, is every fan, player and front office personnel enjoyed every minute of Iginla’s return.
“I think everyone understands how special this is for the city, for the Flames organization and for Jarome,” head coach Claude Julien said. “We’d like to respect that and honor it the best we can.
“It’s important what he’s done for the city and the organization. [The ceremony] is well deserved. We’re very willing to stand there and let him get the accolades that he deserves. Its a special night for him, I know that.”
It was a special night indeed for Jarome Iginla, and a night that he will never forget.