The marriage might have been a little delayed between Jarome Iginla and the Boston Bruins, but its here and its real.
At this time last year, The Hub of Hockey was quite upset with Iginla’s decision to choose the Pittsburgh Penguins over the Black and Gold. Some were quite upset with Iggy himself, while others looked at Pens GM Ray Shero who swooped in at the last minute to offer the Calgary Flames a package that former GM Jay Feaster accepted.
Prior to Iginla joining the Pens, Peter Chiarelli had been informed by Feaster that “he had won the sweepstakes“. The Bruins would have sent Matt Bartkowski and Alex Khoklachev – both of whom were healthy scratches for the Boston and Providence Bruins that night, respectively – to Calgary. Instead Feaster received prospects Ben Hanowski and Kenny D’Agostino from Pittsburgh. Feaster, for his efforts (or lack thereof during his tenure), is now unemployed.
Iginla and the Penguins were not the match they were both hoping for. In fact they both fell short of kissing the Stanley Cup when Tuukka Rask’s glove save on Iggy in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals solidified a Bruins sweep.
A few weeks later, Iginla, just a few months removed from the trade, signed with the Black and Gold. It’s safe to say that this may very well be Chiarelli’s best free agency move since Day 1 of his job of mid-July, 2006 – just a couple of weeks after Zdeno Chara and Marc Savard signed with Boston.
The deal? A one-year contract worth a $1.8 million base salary and incentives worth $4.2 million. And it sure looks like Iginla will get those incentives and some with a games played bonus of $3.7 million and $500k for performance based results (goal scoring and playoffs).
“It was a very good gesture by Jarome,” Chiarelli said at Iginla’s conference call back in July (via ESPN Boston). “It’s similar to the one Mark Recchi made two years ago. It’s a very cap friendly deal, and he will get the bulk of his compensation in attainable bonuses.”
Playing in all 75 games after today? Check. A fixture on the first line with Milan Lucic and David Krejci? Check. Another 30 goal season? Well, that may be surprising to some, but, check.
With two goals against the Washington Capitals in the B’s Atlantic Division clinching 4-2 victory Saturday afternoon at the Verizon Center, Iginla became the first Bruin since Lucic in 2010-11 to eclipse the 30-goal mark. It marked the 12th time in his career where the former Flames captain notched 30 or more goals.
His presence has been well noticed in the Bruins locker room. As impressive as his on-ice performance has been, his grace and humility is another reason why Iginla has been a perfect fit for the Black and Gold.
Don’t believe me? Just ask Patrice Bergeron.
“He’s been exactly what he needed,” Bergeron told reporters after tallying a goal in six straight games with his power play marker in the third period against the Caps. “The style we preach, he does. He’s been doing that his whole career, and that consistency is hard to do. He’s been doing it all along. He works hard, he’s a terrific teammate and an even better player.”
Sure, Iginla went through a slump at the start of the season as he went scoreless through the first eight games of the 2013-14 season. But after getting accustomed to his new linemates, Krejci and Lucic, that early season slump is now a thing of the past.
“I feel fortunate. I’ve been able to play with some great passers and players during my career, and it’s been like that this year with Krejci and Lucic. ”Iginla said to CSNNE’s Joe Haggerty on Saturday.
“I’ve been getting some good bounces lately, but it’s been a fun year. To win games, to be at the top of the league and to be on some streaks with this group has been pretty fun.”
Sure he’s had some better numbers with the Flames, including two 50-goal seasons and four seasons with at least 40 tallies. But Iginla’s success this year has helped the Bruins become one of the best teams in the league, again.
A new city can be difficult to navigate to some, and Iginla went through that in his few short months with Pittsburgh. This year, however, is a different case in Boston.
“I love it here,” Iginla said to Haggerty about playing in The Hub of Hockey. “Honestly the season is going by so fast, and we’re just trying to keep going as a group and keep getting better.”
With the eyes on the ultimate prize, it would be a little surprising for Chiarelli to lock up Iginla for next year – and potentially beyond – before the Stanley Cup Playoffs. But, Iginla has done his part of earning a new contract, and the Bruins GM should try to capitalize between the end of the Cup Final and the start of free agency on July 1.