Calgary Flames forward Jarome Iginla has silenced his critics for the time being.
We don’t have to think back too far to remember all of the chatter about Iggy at the beginning of the 2011 season.
Remember some of these lead ins: “Iginla doesn’t have what it takes anymore,” Iggy can’t pop,” “Iginla is over the hill" and my favorite—“The Flames are doomed: trade Iginla now.”
It did not matter that most beat journalists and Calgary fans were well aware that Jarome Iginla is a perennial slow-starter.
It did not matter that he has been one of the best leaders and goal scorers in the NHL for the last decade.
Despite the fact that the Flames have burned out every year because of a lack of depth—it was still Iginla’s fault somehow.
Every year, no matter what, Iginla starts slow and then catches fire (sorry for all those flame references, just having a little fun) just in time to lead Calgary into the playoff hunt.
This time it seems that no one believed Iginla would be able to continue that prodigious effort.
I was so sick of all the negative talk that I wanted to see Jarome go to a team that would give him a chance at another Stanley Cup and appreciate him more.
Admittedly, I started trying to visualize Iginla in a Philadelphia Flyers uniform, or LA Kings jersey.
The Calgary Flames proved smarter than some other teams that would have let the $7 million-dollar-a-year Forward go for draft picks and salary cap space to maneuver and rebuild.
The result would be giving up the season and any hope of making the playoffs, but several other organizations would have done just that.
The Flames' management came out swiftly and categorically, stating they would not trade Iginla or Kiprusoff this season—end of story and speculation.
Somehow, the team also accomplished something they had not been able to do for years. They found a centerman that actually can play the position.
35-year-old Brendon Morrison surprised Flames management with his best performance in five years with a plus (+) 13 so far this season. The play of the trio of Iginla, Morrison and Tanguay have helped catapult the Flames into playoff contention and have also made them the team no one wants to face when the playoffs start. It helps that the Flames also have Rene Bourque, Robyn Regher and several other solid players.
Iginla is back in a familiar spot, earning a top-10 position in NHL scoring.
Hockey old-timers might remember the Toronto Maple Leafs' surprising Stanley Cup run with a team they called “the over the hill gang.” The team led by veteran Red Kelly and Toronto won 3 straight Stanley Cups from 1962 to 1964. The team also featured Hall of Famers Frank Mahovolich, Johnny Bower, Dave Keon, Andy Bathgate and Tim Horton, and was coached by Punch Imlach, who also served a General Manager.
Don’t count the Flames out yet.
History has a way of repeating itself.