He made the Bruins look pretty stupid in the spring, but veteran forward Jarome Iginla is making the B’s look pretty damn good this summer.
The former Flame and future Hall of Famer left Boston’s Black and Gold high and dry for Pittsburgh’s Black and Gold at the trade deadline this season, despite the teams agreeing to terms on a deal that would have sent him to The Hub in exchange for a handful of highly touted prospects. But Iginla chose to reroute his career path to Pittsburgh — not Boston — at the last minute to join the East’s best squad. At least that’s what he and just about everyone else thought.
“At the time, Pittsburgh was really — they were rolling,” Iginla said Saturday. “They are two great organizations and they were just on a real roll. At the time, leaving at the deadline, I believed it was a great chance to win.”
Iginla pissed off a lot of people in these parts — it’s not the hardest thing to do but it’s certainly not the smartest thing to do. Even B’s general manager Peter Chiarelli was probably and rightfully ticked off, as he missed out on what was the top player on the block. Missed out on him after having him, that is. In fact, they were so close that there is (or was at least) probably an Iginla Bruins jersey floating around in the contours of TD Garden, stitched up in haste on the afternoon of April 3.
But over the Fourth of July holiday weekend, the B’s and Iginla finally made it officially official. To repeat: Yes, Iginla is a Bruin. After all the chants, boos, T-shirts and signs made to get under Iginla’s skin, he’s now a member of the Bruins, whether fans like it or not. And they better like it, because it’s a smart move made by an organization who swallowed its pride and did what was best for the team despite what happened between the two in the past.
“My opinion of him hasn’t changed as a person or as a player,” Chiarelli said. “I know he’s a terrific player. We needed a right wing with Nathan Horton leaving and Tyler Seguin being traded. I don’t want to go through the events from the trade deadline, but I can tell you this. My opinion on him as a person and a player has not changed since then. We tried to get him then and we’re very happy to have him now.”
There you have it. The B’s needed a player of his caliber and of his experience and they got him. He’ll be a good player on the ice and a good teammate off the ice.
But how could Chiarelli and the B’s forgive and forget after what he did to them?
Because Iginla’s decision to join the Penguins had nothing to do with or against Boston. Iginla felt that the Penguins had the best chance to win a Stanley Cup and what player wouldn’t be attracted to that, no matter their age? As if he even needs it, Iginla is a guy who certainly deserved the right to pick a contender at the deadline. Sure, he ended up picking the “wrong” team, and sure he may have left the Flames with fewer prospects than the B’s were offering, but at the end of the day, it was about winning. Isn’t it always?
Iginla proved that it’s only about winning and now the Bruins are, too. What more could a fan ask for?
“This time around it was looking at it and I wasn’t sure if there was going to be an opportunity,” Iginla said of his chances at joining the B’s this offseason. “I wasn’t sure how Peter felt or the Bruins felt about possibly having me. I’m thrilled that it was a chance. The city is an amazing sports city.
“I’m thrilled that they gave me another opportunity.”
It’s moves like this one why the Bruins are where they are and who they’ve become. A Stanley Cup runner-up isn’t the best title to have, but it’s a better one than every other team in the league except one. It’s these winning moves, with all feelings aside, that put Chiarelli’s teams in contention almost every year.
“Anytime you can get someone like that,” Chiarelli explained, “you go after it.”
It’s that simple. Winning players with winning attitudes create winning situations, no matter who they are or what they did. As if fans needed another reason to applaud this organization, Peter Chiarelli just gave them another one.