There was plenty of outrage and shock throughout the hockey world last March when Jarome Iginla personally vetoed a trade to the Boston Bruins in favor of joining the Pittsburgh Penguins. All throughout the night nearly every hockey news outlet, including this one, had Iginla making what was presumed to be his last run for a Stanley Cup with the Boston Bruins. Instead, Iginla forced Flames general manager to send him into the arms of Sidney Crosby, leaving Bruins fans and management wondering exactly what happened.
From Iginla's perspective it is easy to see why he made the decision. The Penguins had arguably the two best players in the world in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, and were the heavy favorite to emerge from the Eastern Conference and challenge for the Stanley Cup.
Of course once the two teams eventually faced off in Conference Finals, the Bruins swiftly dispelled any notion that they were the inferior team. The B's easily swept the Pens out of the playoffs, and probably left Iginla wondering if he was the new Marian Hossa.
This offseason, the former Flames captain was an unrestricted free-agent, and this time, he willingly signed with the Bruins. That contract is for one year, and allows the Bruins to go over the cap for a single season under the league's veterans exception clause.
Last year, Iginla's snub undoubtedly motivated the Bruins come playoff time, so it is fair to wonder if there was any lingering animosity in the locker room when camp started this season. Apart from the light ribbing the future hall-of-famer likely received, the results on the ice this preseason seem to speak for themselves.
Iginla has scored three goals thus far, and has provided a big right-handed shot for the left side of the Bruins powerplay that the team has been seeking for years. In an age where so many pro athletes opt to skip the preseason, it has been refreshing to see Iginla busting has hump every time he takes the ice.
Strangely enough, Iginla's initial deicision not to come to Boston was only one piece of the puzzle.
One of the key pieces of that deal (although it wasn't quite known at the time) was defenseman Matt Bartkowski. Whether Iginla was the piece to push the Bruins over the top in the Stanley Cup Finals will never be known,
One thing that is clear is that the Bruins can now have their cake and eat it too. If Iginla had come to Boston last year and retired the Bruins would be short a defenseman and a top six forward.
Instead, they now have both. Bartkowski is on the opposite end of the scale of Iginla in terms of experience, but with a one-year contract, the young blue liner will be equally as hungry to contribute to a championship team.
Whether your a second-year player, or 15-year veteran, the goal in Boston remains the same.
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