BOSTON – The Bruins had Jarome Iginla. The Calgary Flames had agreed to a deal with Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli that would send draft picks and Matt Bartkowski to Alberta in return for the future Hall of Famer.
It was not to be.
Iginla decided he wanted to play for the Pittsburgh Penguins instead, deciding he had a better chance to win his first Stanley Cup by the side of megastars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Who could really blame him? Boston, of course.
After all, the Bruins won the Cup just two years ago. But the Penguins had already added Brenden Morrow mere weeks before and had the best record in the Eastern Conference. The Bruins had started the season like a house of fire, but slowed down around March, struggling to find consistent scoring.
“He’s a legend. He’s a future Hall of Famer,” said Milan Lucic. “I think looking back at that day, he earned the right to make the decision that he made. You can never blame a guy for going with his heart and making that type of decision. I’m not going to insult him in any way.”
There is no doubt that the Penguins have more talent than the Bruins. It’s kind of hard to blame Iginla for wanting to play with the best player in the world and choosing what might have been the best team in the league. But sometimes, decisions can have consequences.
Many Bruins fans were thrilled at the idea of revenge against Iginla, the man who, in their eyes, said their team was not good enough. He was the superstar who chose stardom over the team style that brought the Bruins to their first Stanley Cup in 40 years. The Bruins themselves used Iginla’s decision as motivation as well.
“We kind of took it that way, in that sense that when a guy chooses another team over your team, it kind of does light a little bit of a fire underneath you,” Lucic said. “Fortunately, we were able to turn it into a positive more than a negative.”
Ultimately, the Bruins and their fans did get their revenge. They swept the Penguins, and Iginla finished the series without a point. It seems fitting that the lone goal in Game 4 deflected off Iginla’s stick en route to beating Tomas Vokoun. And it seems fitting that Iginla took the final shot of the Penguins’ season, a weak wrister into the glove of Tuukka Rask.
“Obviously we’re a very good team, too, but we went cold at the wrong time, as far as going in,” Iginla said. “I had a very tough series, there’s no question about that. I’m sure those close games, yeah, we believe we’re going to find a way to win those close games. We didn’t, and they did, and they’re moving on. They played great hockey.”
The Bruins are heading to their second Stanley Cup final in two seasons. Now the veteran who has been in the NHL since 1996 will not get a chance to play for the Cup. He got what he wanted when he forced Calgary to strike a deal with Pittsburgh, but now it’s Boston that gets to play for the ultimate prize.