Jarome Iginla has played 610 games at the Scotiabank Saddledome in his 17-year NHL career, but Tuesday night will be his first time doing so as a visitor.
One of the greatest players in Calgary history, Iginla headed east for more postseason-friendly pastures midway through last season, spending a brief stint in Pittsburgh before signing with the Bruins in the offseason.
Iginla has not forgotten his roots, though, and he told reporters Monday that the return to the Saddledome was definitely a date he had circled on his calendar.
“Coming in it doesn’t feel like I’ve left,” Iginla said. “Honestly, it feels like coming home.”
The veteran winger was the face of the Flames for nearly two decades, setting franchise records for goals (525), points (1,095) and games played (1,219). His departure, while not unexpected, came rather suddenly, leaving Flames fans without the opportunity to give their captain a proper sendoff.
Iginla — whom Calgary center Joe Colborne called “the face of the city” — will likely be welcomed back with open arms Tuesday night, though he was hesitant to predict how the crowd will react to his return.
“I don’t have a lot of expectation,” he said. “I hope it’s positive. I feel that, in terms of parting ways, as far as leaving the team, I guess it was kind of coming and I don’t think there were a lot of hard feelings as far as I know. I hope it’s positive.”
Iginla’s former teammates, however, have no such reservations.
“It’d be pretty hard to believe he wouldn’t get a very warm reception,” said defenseman Mark Giordano, who assumed captaincy in Calgary when Iginla departed. “He meant a lot to this organization. He’s such a good guy. It goes without saying.
“He’s a Hall of Fame player. In my opinion probably the most recognizable Flame that this organization looked to for a long time. He was a big part of our team. He was a great guy. Obviously last year it was tough to see him go, but [Tuesday] is going to be special.”
While the Bruins enter the matchup a game out of first place in the Eastern Conference, Calgary has continued to struggle this season. With just 26 points through 29 games — only rival Edmonton has a lower total in the West — the Flames seem well on their way to finishing outside of playoff contention for the fifth consecutive year. Calgary has not reached the postseason since 2009 and has not won a series since losing in the Stanley Cup Final in 2004.