With the NHL’s trade deadline now just a couple weeks away, rumours about who’s going where is really picking up steam. This past week, Jarome Iginla’s name has been bounced around most particularly in association with the Los Angeles Kings. On TSN this week, the rumour was Iginla to La La Landin exchange for goaltender Jonathan Bernier who would head the opposite way to Calgary. Thanks but no thanks, I say.
As far as attitude goes, Iginla is the total package. He’s a proven team-leader and while he’s only led his team to the Stanley Cup Finals once (under the coaching of none other than Darryl Sutter), it speaks volumes that Iginla has remained in Calgary despite playing on a plethora of bad teams. Some players would revert to their prima donna ways and publicly ask for a ticket out of town but not Iginla. He stuck with the Flames through thick and thin for all these years and despite having his name involved in trade rumours for over a decade now, the veteran has never been fazed. All he’s done is gone out there and played his best hockey, which he has done so often. I even remember meeting Iginla in Montreal during the 2004 World Cup of Hockey. While I never enjoyed flagging players or celebrities down on the street, I felt particularly different on this day so I caught up to Iginla and he treated me like an old friend even though we never met before. Plus, I don’t know if anyone else notices but whenever the veteran is being interviewed, he’s always on the verge of cracking a smile even if his team loses and Iginla himself had a particular forgettable night. How can you not want someone like that in your locker room, even if it is just for a short period of time? Unfortunately, there is a bit more than attitude at stake here.
Like they’ve been so many times in the last 15 years, the Calgary Flames are essentially in a rebuild mode. Despite having talented players like Mike Cammalleri and Alex Tanguay, they’re not exactly spring chickens. Miikka Kiprusoff has been Calgary’s bread and butter if you will for years in the net but at 36, it’s anyone’s guess as to how much longer he will last as a number-one guy anywhere much less in Calgary. As for Iginla, as great as he’s been throughout his career, his best days are behind him. That’s not to say that he will never be effective again but there’s no denying that he’s in the twilight of his career. Turning 36 in July, the Edmonton native may be entering the summer as a hot commodity but he won’t be expected to lead a team as effectively as he did in 2004. Iginla’s window is closing on winning that elusive championship and perhaps Los Angeles would give him the best opportunity. Having said that, the Kings aren’t just going to fork over a significant piece of their team’s success to meet the veteran’s (or the Flames’) needs.
As previously mentioned, TSN discussed the possibility of goaltender Jonathan Bernier heading to Calgary in a hypothetical trade that would see Iginla don the silver and black. While many fans in Los Angeles may like Jarome Iginla, the price is simply too much as few fans (if any) are willing to part ways with Bernier. Yes, he is for all intents and purposes a backup but with Jonathan Quick’s inconsistency this season (mostly stemming from his off-season back surgery), Bernier’s presence has never been more crucial to the Los Angeles Kings than it is this season and while most teams are aching for one bona fide netminder let alone two, the thought of sending the 24-year-old backstop packing is, in my mind, crazy. This season, Bernier is 5-2-0 with a 1.93 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage. Those numbers are worth keeping for the time being as far as I’m concerned.
In his 16 seasons in Calgary, Jarome Iginla has surpassed the 80-point mark five times. He won the scoring title with 52 goals in 2001-02 and hit the 50-goal plateau again in 2007-08. In 26 games this season, Iginla has seven goals and 12 assists on a Flames team hovering near the bottom of the Western Conference standings. If a Stanley Cup is what Jarome Iginla wants, then now is the time to shop around.
Had this been three or four years earlier, I’m sure Kings fans would be much more gung-ho about the prospect of landing a sure-fire (no pun intended, trust me) Hall-of-Famer. But now, it’s a different story. Iginla’s still good but not as good and if the Flames are actually serious about trading their senior statesman this time, they won’t be content to settle for a few draft picks and a minor-leaguer with little potential. Flames’ GM Jay Feaster didn’t settle on anything when he built the 2004 Stanley Cup-winning Tampa Bay Lightning (the same team who defeated Iginla’s Flames in the Finals) and that won’t change. Understandably, Feaster wants someone substantial in exchange for Iginla. That could mean Bernier, it could mean Tyler Toffoli, Derek Forbort or anyone else in the Kings organization that has the promise of having a solid NHL career in front of them. Personally, I don’t see why the Los Angeles Kings would be willing to pay that price.
While he was drafted by the Dallas Stars, Jarome Iginla did spend his entire playing career in Calgary so how he’d react to a different locker room is anyone’s guess. I’m sure it wouldn’t be an issue but it is something to consider nonetheless.
Like I said before, thanks but no thanks. Jarome Iginla would be a nice addition not only for his on-ice contributions but for his class-act persona. But if landing Iginla means watching Jonathan Bernier head north, I’d rather pass.