They don't make them like Jarome Iginla anymore.
I bring this up today because the Flames captain recently hit an impressive milestone, a milestone so unique that it is a testament to the athletic talent and conditioning of Jarome Iginla. When Jarome scored his 20th goal on January 21 against the Dallas Stars, it meant that he had scored 20+ goals in the last 12 seasons. This streak is also the longest active in the NHL at the moment. It put Jarome in the elite class with the select few that have accomplished the feat such as Wayne Gretzky, Brett Hull, Maurice Richard, Mark Messier, Steve Yzerman, Gordie Howe, Luc Robitaille, Mats Sundin, and Jeremy Roenick. Prolific scorers such as Mario Lemieux, Pat LaFontaine, Theo Fleury, Mike Modano and Pavel Bure never accomplished such a streak (in fairness, injuries as well as playing for the Canucks (in Bure's case) did hold Bure and #66 back) and power forwards similar to Iginla like Cam Neely and Peter Forsberg came up short as well. There are a few special players playing today...Crosby, Ovechkin, and Stamkos come to mind...that probably will score at that record clip for such a period. But the fact remains that Jarome Iginla is the only player to be consistent in such a manner during that period, a period not necessarily known for its abundance of scoring. From a Flames standpoint though, this statistical consistency confirms (if you didn't already know) that Iginla is the greatest player to ever wear the Flaming C. But such an accolade, being the greatest Flame ever, is not what makes Jarome Iginla legendary. It's the little things beyond the statistics that make him a great professional athlete.
Jarome Iginla is the poster child for what a professional athlete should be. He is talented, hard working, a leader, and a model citizen. In a world where pro athletes care more about taking their talents places and claiming their actions are driven by a (faux) desire to win it all, Jarome Iginla is the opposite. Iginla has always been committed to the Flames franchise and the city of Calgary. He is not one to inflate his ego and understands his role and influence without complaint. He plays in a hockey crazy market, takes everything in stride, and doesn't complain about the pressures associated with it. And as wi pointed out in her post earlier this week, courtesy of an anecdote from the Fan960's Rob Kerr, Jarome happily agreed to replace Olli Jokinen, after the latter refused, to be the dansare on the Dome Jumbotron. Nothing Iginla does comes off as phoney or scripted and he genuinely gives 100% in everything he does. He's loyal and professional. And as Darryl Sutter drove the franchise to the ground in the last year or so with his suspects moves, Iginla never wavered and stayed committed to his team. He said he would be cooperative if the team desired to move him. He is someone I really want to play a round of golf with. Anyways, you get it...
Which brings me to the next point...oh yes...the Stanley Cup and the fact Jarome hasn't been able to hoist it. And whether he does it or not, should not be judgment of Iginla's success as a professional athlete. As a Flames fan, I would want nothing else than to see him win a Stanley Cup as a member of the Calgary Flames. And if he won't be able to win it with the Flames, he should absolutely get a shot to do it with a team that has a serious chance to do so. I find it humorous how all these so called rumors float around out there re Iginla being traded to the Kings or Habs or Red Wings or Thrashers (yes, I heard that one). They seem to just be thrown around because "hey, the Flames suck ass...let's make up some scenario where we rob them of their valuable asset because you know they suck." Trading Jarome Iginla is not just an average transaction to Flames Nation, it is a big deal. And to Flames fans, if the team weren't to yield a significant return in trading him....it matters more whether he is traded to a place where he can accomplish what he couldn't in Calgary and that's win the Cup. It's why it was important for Darryl Sutter to resign or get fired before he ever pulled the trigger on that trade, it's why Jay Feaster dare not trade Iginla while he is "acting" as a general manager, and it is a move (if it happens) that will have a lasting effect on the next Flames' GM's tenure with the team.
I don't know why I posted all of this really...but earlier this week a good friend of mine, whose knowledge about hockey is about on par with the average Floridian, mentioned to me that he had heard about Iginla's 20+ goal streak and he was amazed. I think his exact words were "I knew the guy was good, but that is really impressive." Well, duh. We went on to briefly chat about Iginla and his accomplishments but it really got me thinking about just how special of an athlete the guy is and his importance to the Flames franchise generally. I had become so numb to the shortcomings of the team and spoiled at the fact Iginla has been there game in and game out, that I had forgotten just how amazing his career has been.
I know that most Flames fans are aware of everything I have just pointed out and understand just how great Jarome is, but I thought it important to point it out nonetheless cause honestly they really don't make them like Jarome Iginla anymore.