Black History Month: Why Boston Sports Fans Should Know More About Jarome Iginla

Iginla signed a one-year deal with the Bruins in 2013

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February 23, 2022

Throughout the month of February, NESN and Berkshire Bank are proud to celebrate Black History Month — honoring the many accomplishments and achievements of African Americans in New England sports. To see all the great stories celebrated on NESN, visit NESN.com/BlackHistoryMonth.

Jarome Iginla signed a one-year deal with the Bruins in the summer of 2013 after he previously chose the Pittsburgh Penguins over Boston at the trade deadline.

The forward may have spent just one season with the Bruins, and is better-known for his time and success with the Calgary Flames, (and when he was unknowingly interviewed by a Boston TV station during a snowstorm in 2020), but Iginla always will be remembered by B’s fans and NHL fans alike for the impact he had on the game.

Iginla was one of the most prominent Black athletes throughout Canadian history. He won the Art Ross Trophy in 2002, breaking a 20-year streak of either Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux or Jaromir Jagr winning the award. He also is a six-time All-Star and a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

Craig Conroy, who played with Iginla for nine seasons, knew the impact he had on the game went far beyond the rink as he made sure to always make his fans feel the love.

“He always set the tone for the whole team. He always went above and beyond, outside the rink, more than any player I have ever seen,” Conroy told Sportsnet in 2019. “If we walked out of the hotel in Toronto — and there’s a lot of people in Toronto — there might be 100 to 150 people and he would sign (autographs) for everybody. It used to drive the coaches crazy because they knew if there were 20 kids out there, Jarome was going to do it. He always took time if people wanted to talk to him. That’s one thing about Jarome: He’s so respectful, and if people would say, ‘You’re my favourite player,’ he would always stop and talk. He’s a true ambassador for the sport.

“… You couldn’t have a better leader for your team. I think he brought more and more (fans) into the game. It just wasn’t the same hockey people. He kind of diversified everything that he did and he was proud of that.”

At the end of the day, Iginla wanted to leave a positive impact on kids who might have had a dream to play hockey or just loved watching him play. Either way, he clearly was not the person to turn down someone wanting an autograph if it meant making their day a bit better and being a positive role model in the hockey community.

Iginla knew he had fans from all over and used his platform to be more than just someone’s favorite hockey player. Being a good player on the ice is one thing, but being a good person off the ice is what mattered to him.

Conroy also shared a positive message from Iginla during their time together.

“He said, ‘Hey, wherever you come from, whatever you do in this life, you have to have dreams and you have to work hard and believe you can do it and you can succeed,’ ” Conroy said. “No matter race; no matter anything. He always had that positive message: Don’t let there be any barriers for you. That’s the No. 1 thing.”

Iginla was a prideful person and player and never let others’ views on his race stop him from being successful. Though he doesn’t have a Stanley Cup to his name, he leaves behind a legacy that never will be forgotten that goes far beyond his 1,554 games played, 625 goals and 1,300 points.

Thumbnail photo via Candice Ward/USA TODAY Sports Images
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