Jarome Iginla is not wearing a spoked B on his chest. He is sporting a Penguins crest on his uniform and there's no getting around that the choice of jersey was all his doing.
Prior to the trade deadline, Calgary Flames general manager Jay Feaster finally came to the conclusion that he was going to break up his team and rebuild. That meant trading off his best asset.
There's no doubt that Iginla fit the bill, and the Bruins went after him hard. General manager Peter Chiarelli tempted Feaster with a deal that included defenseman Matt Bartkowski, prospect Alexander Khokhlachev and a first-round draft pick. Feaster and Chiarelli came to an agreement that Iginla would become a Bruin.
However, the deal was not official because Iginla was entitled to his say. He had the right to say no to Boston and ask Feaster to complete another trade.
Iginla did just that. Feaster was left with some egg on his face because he made a deal with Boston, but his player did not approve the deal. The Flames captain wanted to go to Pittsburgh.
Calgary granted his wish, moving him to the Penguins to join superstars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, along with a cast of high-end scorers.
If Iginla wanted to play for a Stanley Cup winner, it certainly looked like he was betting on the favorite.
The Pens traded the rights to two college players—Ben Hanowski and Kenneth Agostino—and a first-round draft pick to Calgary for Iginla. Whether the Flames got the same value from Pittsburgh that they would have received from Boston is debatable, but what is not up for discussion is that Iginla chose Pittsburgh over Boston.
This move is going to impact the Eastern Conference Final in many ways, not the least of which is psychological.
The Bruins leadership basically shrugged its shoulders at the outcome of the deal—at least publicly.
Iginla did nothing dastardly. He had a contractual right to express where he wanted to go, and he did just that.
The Bruins did not cry in their beer. They acquired a future Hall of Famer in Jaromir Jagr. While Jagr, 41, still is a force when he has the puck on his stick and must be accounted for by the defense, he has not scored a postseason goal.
Iginla has four goals and eight assists in the playoffs for the Penguins.
Boston may not react publicly to Iginla, but facing him in a best-of-seven series is likely to bring out some resentment in the locker room.
The Bruins will almost certainly use it as motivation. They may want to hit Iginla just a tad harder in the corner than they normally would or focus on giving him a little payback for the insult of choosing the Penguins over them.
However, if the Bruins obsess about Iginla, they could lose sight of the big picture. Their goal is to beat the Penguins and get to the Stanley Cup Final. Concentrate too much on Iginla and they may let James Neal, Brenden Morrow (who also chose Pittsburgh over Boston), Pascal Dupuis or Chris Kunitz beat them.
No matter how worked up the Bruins get, they would never forget about Crosby or Malkin. Those two are so talented that regardless of what defensive scheme head coach Claude Julien comes up with, it will be difficult to slow them down.
The psychological angle is not the only aspect to Iginla's presence in a Pittsburgh uniform.
Like Jagr, Iginla will almost certainly end up in the Hall of Fame. He is a great goal scorer who can plant himself down low and pounce on rebounds and deflections. He also has a quick-release wrist shot and a heavy slap shot.
Teammate Matt Cooke said Iginla's presence in the locker room gives the team more confidence.
"He brings a presence, a calmness almost," Cooke told NHL.com. "He's obviously won in a lot of places -- juniors, World Juniors, Olympics, World Championships. There's only one missing."
Iginla is a strong physical presence with a knack for scoring goals. His talent and ability make the Penguins stronger and give the Bruins one more thing to be concerned about in their matchup with the explosive Pens.
In the end, his ability to score clutch goals is the big issue. The Bruins must find a way to limit him or slow him down if they are going to have a chance in what should be a memorable series.
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