And so ends the career of one of the last players to be drafted in the ’90s but more importantly one of the last people to ever play against the career-end-er known as Scott Scott Stevens. With Iginla set to retire on the 30th, only 6 players remain who were drafted in the ’90s including the Leafs’ own Patrick Marleau and Big Joe Thornton.
This retirement doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone as Iginla went unsigned all last season and in the previous season was only able to post 14 goals with 13 assists. Despite Iginla being in the waning years of his career, it’s still sad to see a legend retire, especially a guy like Jerome Iginla. Iginla was the NHL’s Hines Ward, in that you could always catch him with a smile on his face. You could cross check Jerome Iginla and he’d just hit you back with that patented smile of his. Because at the end of the day Jerome Iginla just loved to lace em up and play some fucking hockey. He didn’t mind taking a backseat as his career went on because he was just happy to be playing in the NHL and if you couldn’t love that, then fuck you.
If you can’t tell, Jerome Iginla is my favourite hockey player of all-time. I realize I was born and raised in Toronto but the thing was, I wasn’t always a Leafs fan. As a child I had a knack for being a shit disturber and the best way to get under my grandfather’s skin was to cheer against the Leafs but I could never route for someone like Boston or Montreal, so I fell on Calgary and for most of my childhood, they were my team. Iggy, Mika and Dion were my boys, which made the Dion trade to Toronto so exciting for me. Like the Flames, I can’t really put my finger on the exact reason I liked Jerome Iginla so much but if I had to guess, I think it’s because he was one of the few dudes who could knock you out in a fight and then score a hat-trick. He was the ultimate power-forward, despite not being that physically imposing. It also didn’t hurt that I felt like Iginla embodied Canada, his father was an immigrant from Nigeria, whilst his mother hailed from Oregon who happened to meet in Canada and give birth to Jarome Arthur-Leigh Adekunle Tij Junior Elvis Iginla (awesome fucking name, especially when you find out his dad changed his native Nigerian name to Elvis, upon coming to Canada), a man who’d help bring two gold medals to Canada.
The biggest knock on Iggy’s career is the fact that he never won a Stanley Cup*, championships don’t mean as much in hockey compared to basketball because the Cup is arguably the hardest championship to win in North America. For the last 5 years of his career, Iginla went cup chasing like many older players do who had yet to win, he came close on both the Penguins and Bruins but would still never get to purse his lips against Lord Stanley’s Cup. Leaving one blemish on an almost perfect career.
As mentioned earlier, what Iginla may have lacked in NHL hardware, he sure as hell made up for it internationally. He won two golds on Canada’s World Juniors team in 96 & 97. Iginla was part of the historic 2002 Salt Lake team that brought home gold for Canada in 50+ years AND was the most instrumental part in Crosby’s ‘Golden Goal’ as he fought off two American defenders on the boards and you can audibly hear Crosby yell “Iggy“.
I don’t know what more to say about Jarome Iginla, except for that I hope he enjoys his retirement just as much as he did his playing career and hopefully, this won’t be the last we’re hearing from him. Perhaps a head office job somewhere?
I will say this, if Jarome Iginla is not a first ballot Hall-of-Fame-r,I will throw piss filled water balloons at Gary Bettman at the ceremony in which Iggy should’ve been enshrined. The guy ended his career with 1300 points and 1040 penalty minutes, that’s a goddamn renaissance man if I’ve ever seen one.
So thanks for the memories Iggy and R.I.P in peace
*They beat Tampa, I know it, you know it, the NHL definitely knows it.