BOSTON — Jarome Iginla has accomplished pretty much everything an NHL player could imagine.
He has scored more than 500 goals, won two Olympic gold medals, is adored by legions of fans throughout the league and one day will be enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
The one goal Iginla hasn’t been able to reach in his 17-year NHL career is winning the Stanley Cup, but the 37-year-old forward believes this Bruins team might represent the best chance he’s ever had to win the sport’s ultimate prize.
“We want to win it as a group,” Iginla said after Thursday’s practice. “The guys who’ve won it before are very hungry. … It’s been fun to watch as a new guy coming here how motivated everyone is.”
“It’s a new start, (the playoffs) are always exciting because there’s possibilities, it could be this year. This is as good a chance as I believe I’ve had.”
Iginla has come extremely close to lifting the best trophy in sports. In 2004, his Calgary Flames went on a remarkable run to the Cup Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning and had a chance to win the team’s first championship since 1989 on home ice in Game 6. The Lightning won that game in double overtime with a goal from Martin St. Louis, and then clinched the title back in Tampa Bay with a 2-1 Game 7 victory.
Iginla said the ’04 playoff run was a positive experience despite the incredibly tough ending. Just as in that postseason, his team will need to beat the Detroit Red Wings on the way to reaching the Cup Final.
Boston begins its playoff run Friday night at TD Garden against Detroit, and as a player with 61 points (32 goals, 29 assists) in 69 career postseason games, Iginla is expected to be a key part of the Bruins’ success over the next two months. He was one of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ top scorers in last year’s playoffs before the Bruins completely shut them down in a conference finals sweep.
While the Bruins have said this week that they’re motivated to help Iginla win his first championship, head coach Claude Julien wants his players to remain focused on each opponent and pay attention to the minor details that often make the difference.
“We all remember Ray Bourque here, and when he went to Colorado, they really wanted to win it,” Julien said Wednesday. “But you know, in order to do that for him, you really got to focus on your game. Focus on what you need to do there. At the end, you hope that that’s what it takes to get him a Cup, but I don’t want our team just to focus on (Iginla) because I don’t think our focus is going to be the right place.”
Would Iginla’s career be complete without a Stanley Cup title? He doesn’t think so, and even if the Bruins are able to win the Cup in June, the veteran winger still plans to continue his career.
“I try not to look at it that way,” he said. “I hope we win this year, but I still want to play next year regardless.”